Once A Warrior 2020 part 6: A Sizeable Quartet

Siosiua Halanukonuka

Warrior number – 291

Appearances – 31
Tries – 1

Debut – Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, 26th November 2017
Last game – Leinster at Celtic Park, 25th May 2019

Following in the footsteps of fellow Tongan tighthead Sila Puafisi, Siosiua was a regular in his first couple of seasons for the club. Unfortunately the former Highlander wasn’t as lucky with injuries as his international colleague, which contributed to a return of 31 games across three seasons. From his debut onwards though, Siua was picked for every matchday squad that he was available for. With the 2019/20 season proving to be a write off for the tighthead prop, due to an injury picked up at the RWC followed by the coronavirus pandemic, there was no chance for the big man to say goodbye on the pitch.

Trotting on to make his debut against the Ospreys in possibly the largest pair of Glasgow Warriors’ shorts ever seen (seriously – it looked like someone had repurposed a two-man tent) Siua cut an instantly recognisable figure. At his best when putting in repeated heavy duty carries (see the Scarlets at Scotstoun in 2018) he certainly added some heft to the Glasgow pack. His short-range (less than a metre) try against the Cheetahs was a classic prop’s score. An old school front row forward still cutting it in the modern game. What’s not to like?

Moving to – Perpignan

Matt Smith

Warrior number – 281

Appearances – 25
Tries – 3

Debut – Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, 26th February 2017
Last game – Ospreys at Scotstoun, 25th January 2019

Matt first caught the eye as part of the 2016 Scotland under 20s. Hitting like a tank in the tackle and pretty heavily involved in attack too, notably popping up with tries against England and Wales, he looked every bit the future pro player. Progressing through the ranks at Glasgow he turned pro after a memorable try double against Zebre while still an Academy player.

Timing can be a huge factor in rugby, especially for a country with as few teams as Scotland. As a new pro, Smithers found himself elevated to first choice in 2017/18 with both Callum Gibbins and Chris Fusaro injured. He played more than 750 minutes that season. In 2018/19 his time was more limited with both senior 7s fit (and unencumbered by international duty). Towards the end of the season, when either Gibbins or Fusaro was missing, Matt had the misfortune to be injured himself. Instead the opportunities fell to Tom Gordon who ended up starring against Edinburgh and featuring in the playoff semi-final and Grand Final.

If anyone ever questioned just how tough professional sport can be, Matt’s interview with Rugby Pass should soon disabuse them of that notion. It’s heartening to hear that Smithers is in a better place having stepped away from the game. He deserves huge credit for his honesty and openness. Nothing is worth sacrificing your mental health for.

Moving to – retired

Nick Frisby

Warrior number – 296

Appearances – 21
Tries – 4

Debut – Connacht at the Sportsground, 1st September 2018
Last game – Dragons at Scotstoun, 22nd February 2020

The announcement of Nick’s signing provoked some social media outrage with a teaser gif being over analysed into a slight on the fans rather than the the slightly less esoteric visual pun of the image being a frisbee and Nick’s name being, well Frisby.

He was straight into the action in game 1 of the 2018/19 season, providing the pass for Stuart Hogg to slot the winning drop goal away to Connacht. More recently he was on the end of the Warriors’ Try of the Season for 2019/20, finishing off in style from a Nick Grigg break.

His very Australian predilection for prancing about in budgie smugglers made Instagram stories into somewhat of a Russian Roulette situation. The West End of Glasgow certainly got to see an awful lot of Pickle in the last couple of years…

Like many of the Warriors’ external signings, Nick filled a role with its own unique challenges, providing cover for the top two choices at scrum half and their absences through international duties and rest protocols. Third or fourth in the rotation can be a thankless task, particularly when it’s not with one eye on progressing to the top choices. Nick stuck to the job and always seemed to be a enthusiastic presence on and off the pitch.

Moving to – Western Force

Andrew Davidson

Warrior number – 298

Appearances – 8
Tries – 1

Debut – Dragons at Scotstoun, 29th September 2018
Last game – Leinster at the RDS, 28th February 2020

For a number of years Andy’s progression seemed to be inextricably linked to that of fellow lock, Scott Cummings. Very much a good cop (Scott) bad cop (Andy) pairing they were together through school, club, Scotland age grade and the Academy system. When the dynamic duo were reunited following Andy’s sojourn with Newcastle it seemed like a match made in heaven for the long term future of the Warriors’ second row.

Various factors intervened to ensure Andy’s development has not been as stellar as Scott’s (timing of injuries have been particularly unfortunate). Moving to Edinburgh allows him to move up the Depth Chart a notch or two with a clearer route to the main bench player (and starter when Test players are unavailable).

Lock is a competitive area for players in the 23 and under bracket who are jostling for position with key names in the Scotland set up likely in their final World Cup cycle. If Andy can churn out the minutes for Edinburgh in the coming seasons there’s still a chance that the yin and yang of Cummings and Davidson could be reunited in the dark blue shirt of Scotland one day.

Moving to – Edinburgh

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