ONE game, 80 minutes, and you can play your way into Glasgow Warriors’ biggest game of the season so far. Be warned, though, you can also play your way out.

That is the challenge head coach Dave Rennie has laid down, not just to a number of international players in highly competitive positions but also to a couple of fringe players who could find themselves suddenly thrust into the limelight.

It makes the side for tonight’s game against Zebre look more experimental than usual – though it is also a taste of what is likely to come in November when the team’s Test players are away – with the Italian visitors to Scotstoun following the theme of the night by making eight changes of their own.

For Glasgow, the newcomers from last week divide roughly into two camps. The smaller has only two members but what it lacks in size is more than made up for by the scale of the challenge.

Adam Nicol, the tighthead prop, and Andrew Davidson, the lock, would both accept that without a run of injuries they would be nowhere near being in contention for the Heineken Champions Cup match against Saracens. The fact is that the injuries have happened and they are in the running.

Nicol owes his opportunity to the absences of Zander Fagerson and Siua Halanukonuka, which leaves only him and D’Arcy Rae as the fit tightheads in the squad. Rennie hopes to sign an emergency replacement in time to face Saracens but admits it will be tight.

“We’re really happy with what Adam [Nicol] has brought on the training pitch. He made a little cameo last week and this is a chance to put him under a bit more heat to find out a bit more about him,” said Rennie.

“We like what we’ve seen. He’s a pretty good athlete, has a good skill-set and he’s learning all the time from a scrummaging point of view. It has been great for him to go up against guys like Oli Kebble on a weekly basis.”

Davidson, signed on a short-term loan from Newcastle Falcons, comes in because four rival locks are out of action, though Rennie hinted his chance was likely to have come sooner rather than later anyway.

“He’s really impressed us. He’s a local boy who is plying his trade down in Newcastle,” he said. “He’s big, and a really good athlete, he runs good lines, he brings really good physicality on the training pitch and we liked what he saw in his little cameo last week. It will be a really proud moment for him and his family tomorrow.”

The other group are those where there are plenty of players but only a limited number of places. George Horne is given a start at scrum-half after Ali Price has had the last two games. Rory Hughes gets the opportunity on the wing, with Tommy Seymour away dealing with family issues.

The big battle, though is in the back row. As co-captains, Callum Gibbins and Ryan Wilson are guaranteed their spots next week – leaving Adam Ashe and Matt Fagerson in this week’s starting side battling for the third spot.

Tevita Tameilau, the USA inter-national signed in the summer, is waiting on the bench for his first shot in a Glasgow jersey and the chance to show his physical approach can take him zooming past all his rivals.

“We contemplated throwing him on the bench last week,” Rennie revealed of the 19 stone, 6ft 4in back row. “We are really happy with where he has got to. We are very excited, he is a good athlete, a great skill-set and brings a lot of physicality. We are keen to see that.

“He is very explosive, he likes to break tackles, break the line and off-load and so on. He is powerful, it is quite a difference for him but he gives us a little bit better balance. We are keen to see how it goes.”

However, it is more likely that whoever most impresses the coaches between Fagerson and Ashe will get the starting spot with the other on the bench, though Matt Smith, a specialist openside, is also in the squad and ready to add his name to the candidates.

In the midfield, the unit which did a lot of good things against the Dragons is given another run, though Rennie warned that Zebre were likely to pose more of a challenge.

“We know they are a real handful on attack, play a really optimistic brand of footie, the total opposite to the Dragons last week who were pretty negative in most aspects,” he said.

“Zebre lead the competition in off-loads and line breaks. They are prepared to keep the ball in hand and play. They are going to ask a lot of

questions of us defensively, which will be good.”

Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; L Jones, H Jones, A Dunbar, R Hughes; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, G Turner, A Nicol, A Davidson, J Gray (C), A Ashe, C Fusaro, M Fagerson. Replacements: G Stewart, A Allan, D Rae, G Peterson, M Smith, T Tameilau, P Horne, N Matawalu.

Zebre: E Padovani; G Di Giulio, G Bisegni, T Boni, P Balekana; F Brummer, M Violi; C Ah-Nau, O Fabiani, E Bello, L Krumov, G Biagi (C), A Tauyavuca, J Meyer, J Tuivaiti. Replacements: M Ceciliani, D Rimpelli, R Tenga, S Ortis, G Zilocchi, R Raffaele, M Azzolini, G Venditti.

Referee: Q Immelman (South Africa)