Coach well aware of dangers lurking on Highveld
AS Glasgow Warriors head for South Africa today, one message will be ringing in their ears: they are there to maul the Cheetahs but they must not touch the lions.
The modern players being the computer and social media geeks they are, they are bound by now to have seen the online footage warning them what happens when you do stroke a lion.
Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin did it during a pre-match trip to a safari park and was lucky to escape with just scratches – though bad enough to rule him out of their game.
“Message duly noted,” said Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie, as the footage started to leak out of the Ospreys camp. Compared to most of the PRO14 coaches, he does have the advantage of first-hand experience of preparing teams to face Cheetahs.
“I have gone against them a number of times coaching-wise,” he said. “They are dominant up front and have outstanding line-out drive and absolute gas out wide.
“If your kick and chase is poor, you will be punished; if discipline is poor they can put you in the corner.
“But our guys are really fit. With the Chiefs teams, we have run over the top of the Cheetahs in the last 20 minutes. We will certainly be talking positive messages around that.”
Rennie was also taking positive messages from the tenacity Glasgow showed against Benetton Treviso on Friday night, holding on to the ball for almost five minutes after the clock had gone past 80 before claiming the bonus-point try through Sam Johnson.
“I learned a lot about them, their character, resilience,” Rennie said, although he was scathing about the mistakes and discipline issues that let Treviso back into the game.
Nor is he impressed with the timing of the fixture in South Africa. Not only is it a week before the European Champions Cup, it shares the weekend with a cricket Test match, a Currie Cup game and a major music festival in Bloemfontein.
The result is that there is no room at any inn for Glasgow after the match. They are having to hop on a bus and drive back to Johannesburg just to find a bed for the night.