Glasgow Warriors Depth Chart – looking ahead to 2021/22

“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window” – Peter Drucker. It’s still fun to give it a try though…With that in mind it’s time for a first look at the Official* On Top Of The Moon Hypothetical Depth Chart for Glasgow Warriors 2021/22 (or OOTOTMHDCGW 21/22 if you prefer something a bit snappier).

This is a tricky time for squad recruitment. Pressures on budgets and salary cuts should be a bit less than they were in 2020/21 but things still aren’t going to be completely back to normal. Alongside those increased financial restrictions come the usual challenges of identifying players who will strengthen the squad; fit in to the club’s culture; and who want to play in Scotland.

So where do the Warriors stand just now and where do they need to get to by the start of next season?

Loosehead prop

Where Glasgow are:
First choice and one backup signed

Where they need to get to:
Four full-timers who are capable of playing PRO14 rugby.

How they get there:
Re-sign two out of three from Aki Seiuli, Alex Allan and George Thornton. Seiuli would provide more of a 2a / 2b backup (alongside the returning Jamie Bhatti) to Oli Kebble whereas Allan would be a strong third choice who wouldn’t let anyone down. Thornton would be the cheapest option. His game time has been minimal so far but props do tend to develop later than other players.

If Tom Lambert moves onto a pro contract and he’s considered to be developed enough to play a decent amount of minutes in 2021/22 then there is probably only one slot for the three out of contract players to fight for.

Hooker

Where Glasgow are:
First and second choice plus one backup signed

Where they need to get to:
At least one more full-timer. Given the age profile of the top two choices then a significant focus has to start turning to long term succession planning.

How they get there:
Johnny Matthews has had to continually earn extensions to the short-term deals he has been on. His current form seems to have propelled him ahead of both Grant Stewart and Mesu Dolokoto in the current pecking order though, so it might be the Scouser rather than the Fijian international who is retained to support the already confirmed Fraser Brown, George Turner and Stewart.

Development at hooker seems to have relied on converted flankers among those to hit the very highest levels of Scottish Rugby. Are they any prospects waiting in the wings who might take the same route in the next 3 or 4 years? There is likely to be a clearer route to the top and international recognition than among the crowded talent pool in the back row.

Tighthead prop

Where Glasgow are:
First choice and second choice signed

Where they need to get to:
Another couple of squad players.

How they get there:
With Murphy Walker in his third season at Stage 3 of the Academy he’s likely to be going head to head with D’arcy Rae and Adam Nicol for the final two tighthead slots. What the squad could really do with is one of these three homegrown talents (or A.N. Other) taking a big step forward to provide some competition for Zander Fagerson’s starting jersey. At a minimum the club needs less of a drop off when the big prop is unavailable (which could be an extended period in 2021/22 if he makes the Lions’ squad).

Lock

Where Glasgow are:
Three second rows definitely signed up with Scott Cummings having one starting jersey locked down and Richie Gray a strong candidate for the other side in the short-term.

Where they need to get to:
At least one more lock – ideally a younger player who can be instantly in the starting mix with Cummings and Gray.

How they get there:
Complete the rumoured signing of 23 year old David Meihuizen – a 6’9” and 19 stone Scottish-qualified lock currently plying his trade with the Stormers and Western Province. Adding a player who would immediately be Richie’s heir apparent for Glasgow (and most likely Scotland) would give a very strong quartet of locks.

They would be supported by the utility of Rob Harley and (assuming the deal he signed at the start of 2020/21 was for more than a single season) Hamish Bain. There are also a couple of very promising Academy prospects in the shape of Alex Samuel and Max Williamson to keep the conveyor belt moving in the coming seasons.

Back row

Where Glasgow are:
This season’s first choice group (Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon and Matt Fagerson) plus the indefatigable Rob Harley on the books for 2021/22.

Where they need to get to:
This is probably the area of the pack that needs the most work / changes. Three or four players are required. With Wilson and Harley in their 30s, the age profile of any incomers has to be a consideration.

How they get there:
Having seen the likes of Duncan Weir, Mark Bennet and Henry Pyrgos head to Edinburgh in search of opportunities to be first choice, this summer might bring some players moving in the other direction with similar goals in mind. Edinburgh have done really well to retain all three of their first choice back row but that must leave some very talented players in their squad considering their options.

As it stands Magnus Bradbury and Luke Crosbie are both young and ambitious enough to see themselves as starters for the Warriors. Rory Darge and Connor Boyle are almost exactly the same age and probably fighting for the same openside shirt. Ally Miller and Mesulame Kunavula both have plenty of experience in 7s but have shown more than enough in XVs to warrant a squad place and regular game time.

It would be a lot of movement but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if one out of each of those three pairs transferred along the M8 (Bradbury, Darge and Miller if OTOTM was forced to guess). Edinburgh would hold on to the other three plus Nick Haining (whose age profile probably doesn’t make him a good fit for Glasgow) and Ben Muncaster who will move up from the Academy in 2021/22. Glasgow fans would love to welcome back Bruce Flockhart, if possible, to extend the Warriors’ options.

Scrum half

Where Glasgow are:
All of the top three signed up.

Where they need to get to:
Some squad depth.

How they get there:
With rumours that had been swirling around George Horne linking him to both Edinburgh and Bristol thankfully turning out to be false, Glasgow will have a superb trio of scrum halves to call on. At some point Glasgow won’t be able to hold on to all of Horne, Ali Price and Jamie Dobie (when they could quite conceivably be Scotland’s top three choices at scrum half as well) but that’s now an issue for further down the line when Dobie will be 21 or 22.

Depth should come from some combination of guys who have been or will be involved in the Super 6 – Sean Kennedy, Caleb Korteweg and Jordan Lenac.

Stand off

Where Glasgow are:
Duncan Weir has already been confirmed to replace the departing Adam Hastings.

Where they need to get to:
Backup for Weir with a big focus on developing a young 10 (or two) with prospects of playing Test rugby in the future.

How they get there:
There were reports of an offer being made to Munster’s Ben Healy but given the young stand off’s performances for the province’s first team this season it would be a massive surprise if Munster (and the IRFU) didn’t gazump whatever Glasgow and the SRU put on the table.

Ross Thompson should move on to a full-time pro contract next season. With good depth in place at inside centre, Peter Horne will almost certainly continue to split his time between 10 and 12 to give another experienced option. Ideally a second young stand off should be taking their first steps in the PRO14 and, at the very least, picking up a few minutes here and there. Euan Cunningham is already a Stage 3 Academy player who will have spent time this season working with the Warriors’ coaching staff. Christian Townsend is linking up with the Ayrshire Bulls which brings him into Glasgow’s sphere.

Centres

Where Glasgow are:
Probably covered for first and second choice options.

Where they need to get to:
Some depth and development potential to add.

How they get there:
Ensuring recruitment in the back 3 is adequate will allow Kyle Steyn to focus on being the Warriors’ first choice outside centre. Sam Johnson will have the 12 shirt with Pete Horne able to step in when not covering 10. Getting Stafford McDowall to a point where he is pushing to be the first choice inside centre could be significant for both Glasgow and Scotland given the options his size and skillset will provide.

Taking on Robbie Fergusson full-time from the 7s could be handy for depth and cover with the Ayr man being equally comfortable at both 12 and 13. There is also some talent to come through from the Academy system with current Stage 3 players Michael Gray, Robbie McCallum and Connor de Bruyn likely to provide the depth options behind the 4.5 senior pros in the centres.

Back 3

Where Glasgow are:
Not many names confirmed for next season.

Where they need to get to:
Like the back three of the scrum this is the area of the backline requiring the most work. Kyle Steyn needs freeing up to play the majority of his time at centre so there are probably five or six to confirm or add here.

How they get there:
At this stage there has to be an acceptance that Huw Jones seems almost certain to leave. That drives the need for Steyn to focus on outside centre and leaves the gap left by Stuart Hogg two seasons ago as one that urgently needs filled on a permanent basis.

It’s definitely not an easy task though. There were around 35 full backs who moved to or from a top league club at the end of the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons but there were barely a handful at best who would have been realistic targets for the Warriors (including among them the mystery player who, according to John Barclay, was ready to sign on until the deal fell through due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic).

Alivereti Veitokani is without a top level contract after a spell at London Irish. The Fijian international would be a very exciting (but risky) option. Josh McKay has experience with the Highlanders and just a short-term deal with the Crusaders for this year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa. He would come with plenty of potential. The issue for Glasgow is that they really need to bring in a player who is first choice off the bat. With the Ollies (Smith and Melville) coming through the Academy, there are some really promising mid to long-term options at full back but they probably need a bit longer to mature.

On the wings there should still be room for a couple of the out of contract incumbents (Lee Jones, Niko Matawalu, Robbie Nairn and Tommy Seymour) to be re-signed but given the age profile in this area, Rufus McLean (who signed at the start of 2020/21 but whose contract length was unconfirmed) needs some company on the young team. Femi Sofolarin made the big step of committing himself to Scotland via the 7s and it would be a surprise if that hadn’t been with the goal of playing XVs at some stage. He would definitely add significant pace to the backline.


So with all of these factors taken into account how might the hypothetical Depth Chart for 2021/22 look? (Click for large version)


For a detailed look at Glasgow’s squad at the start of the current campaign click here.

Hat tip to Rossco on the glasgowwarriors.com forum who keeps track of all contracts here.


* In no way official…


Updated 31/1/21 at 5:30pm to reflect the excellent news that George Horne has re-signed.

One comment

  1. When i first glanced at the depth chart i couldn’t decide if i had been in a coma and woken up in an alternative reality or if i had missed a lot of announcements!

    Liked by 1 person

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