GLASGOW Warriors enforcer Rob Harley is ready to move up from the back row to second row to fill in for the suspended Brian Alainu’uese in the team’s crunch matches over the next three weeks
Alainu’uese’s ban was announced late on Wednesday night by a PRO12 disciplinary panel, and was handed down for a rucking offence in the Warriors’ win over Treviso on Hogmanay. The 22-year-old can appeal against the suspension, but last night Glasgow were waiting for the panel’s full written report before deciding what to do.
Unless he appeals successfully, Alainu’uese will now miss tomorrow’s league match against Cardiff and the last two Champions Cup pool games against Munster and Leicester, and with several locks already out injured that will leave coach Gregor Townsend with little cover for first-choice pair Jonny Gray and Tim Swinson.
But Harley is confident he can slot into the position comfortably if required. Although he mainly plays at No 6, he was officially listed as a lock in Scotland’s World Cup squad back in 2015, and explained that preparation was more or less the same for either position.
“For me it doesn’t really change much,” he said. “I approach the game the same for both positions and try and do the same things.
“It just makes a small difference in lineout roles, and you’re working a bit harder at scrum time. There’s not a huge difference between the two, so I’m happy wherever I’m selected to go out and play.
“When I was younger I definitely enjoyed the back row more, with the freedom. But partly due to the other players here and the coaching staff I enjoy a lot of the set-piece work that we do, the specific forward work - the mauls and the scrums. I enjoy the technical and physical challenge of that. So really I’m happy with either.”
With Adam Ashe now back playing again after injury, Townsend has a lot of options in the back row. Harley could start there then move up during the match, or start on the bench - but either way he looks like being a key figure as the Warriors look to build on the momentum that has seen them win their last four games.
“With the mood and atmosphere here you have a new energy about the building,” Harley continued. “This week training has been really competitive, really fun, and that helps building towards the weekend. You have positive energy among the whole squad and the standards are high through the whole week.
“It’s great to have momentum, but we can’t sit back and assume it’s going to happen. We have to keep doing the things that are keeping us getting these results, keep doing the preparation during the week, train hard, and perform in training well so we can carry that into games.
“We’ve had a good run, but it’s important for us to keep that momentum going and keep building. Looking at where we are in the table, this is a really important match for us.”
The Warriors are fifth after that win in Italy, out of the top-four play-off places only on points differential. Cardiff are seventh, nine points behind, and are desperate for a second win of the season over one of their biggest rivals. Glasgow will announce their team at lunchtime today for the match, which kicks off at 7.35pm and will be shown live on BBC Alba.