Pride must be restored in our Castres return

SUNDAY'S Heineken Cup return at Castres is all about providing a response to our defeat by the French club last Friday, which was our poorest display – certainly in terms of accuracy – of my time at Glasgow.

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Kellock must sit out cup tie
Kellock must sit out cup tie

Of one thing there is no doubt and that is that Castres will be greatly improved from the team that edged us 9-6 last week and we must make sure that improvement is matched by our own.

This is an opportunity we must take to produce our best rugby and really set down a marker for the big PRO12 double-header with Edinburgh in the 1872 Cup which kicks-off at Scotstoun on Friday week.

Obviously the Heineken Cup campaign has not gone as we would have wanted. We started so brightly at Northampton and put ourselves in a great position to get a famous win, but were unable to see that one out and then lost a tight game in atrocious conditions to Ulster at home.

Although that put us on the back foot we had the chance in the first tie with Castres to give ourselves a foothold but we did not take it and that was hugely disappointing.

As the first half went on we started to find holes in their defence yet, through our own inaccuracy in the pass, we were unable to exploit these chinks so Castres gained confidence and our petered out. Sadly that means we are largely playing for pride in Europe when we had hoped to be very much still in contention.

Unfortunately we will be without our captain Al Kellock. Al has reached the ceiling of the five-game protocol that demands he is rested and it is an innovation I very much approve of. I know there has been criticism of it and suggestions that the modern professional is very much mollycoddled. I disagree.

Firstly, the level of impact now is far greater than it has ever been in the game. For players who have been involved in three Autumn Tests and then had to come back with two big Heineken Cup games, although they may not feel the effects of that level of involvement at the time, they must be saved from its impact.

Al would not have been able to play in any case as he has picked up a horrific 16-stitch gash on his arm that quite frankly resembles a shark bite. At this stage we are hopeful he will be involved in the 1872 Cup games with Edinburgh but time and the healing process will decide.

But when it comes to the five-game protocol it certainly demands that a coach does his homework in terms of planning just when and who to rotate with respect of specific game involvement.

Coming back to the Castres game, I know that Glasgow have had some very big results in France in recent seasons like the famous win at Toulouse and these are ties that we can and must take inspiration from.

This Sunday is all about Glasgow Warriors showing exactly what we are capable of.


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