RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow Warriors coach makes tough call for Leinster
Last Updated: 31/05/14 1:06pm
Gregor Townsend: Admits he faced a selection headache for title decider
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend admits he faced one of the most difficult decisions of his coaching career in selecting his squad for this Saturday's RaboDirect Pro12 title decider against Leinster.
Townsend makes just two changes for the clash with the reigning champions after Peter Horne was recalled in place of Mark Bennett at centre and Gordon Reid for Ryan Grant at prop.
There is no place in his 23-man squad for full-back Stuart Hogg and stand-off Duncan Weir after neither featured in the 16-15 win over Munster in the semi-final.
It was a tough call for the 41-year-old who insisted making difficult decisions was part and parcel of his job as head coach.
"This is a reward for the players who played so well in the semi-final against Munster but it was a tough decision," he said. "They all are.
"I know people have spoken about full-back. Peter Murchie is playing some great stuff but Stuart has trained well and in the end it was a close call and Peter got the nod.
"This is the hardest part of the job. I really feel for the players not involved. I know they would do a very good job if they were chosen, but with results going so well - nine wins in a row - even if you are playing well it is hard to get into this side.
"But making those decisions is part of the job. I looked at each player in training, what they have done in past games and what they can bring tactically each weekend.
"My overriding goal is to pick a team that will win the game. It's not easy but it has to be done."
Saturday's clash will also mark the final game of 35-year-old Leinster and Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll.
The most capped player in the history hopes to bow out by winning a fourth Pro12 crown but Townsend has warned his team not to hand O'Driscoll a fairytale ending to his career.
"Leinster are a quality side full of British Lions," Townsend said. "There will be a bit of emotion on their side with a couple of guys - Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen - retiring.
"For Brian, I was pleased to see him get that Six Nations title this year because it is down to all the hard work he's put in over the last 15 years.
"It's amazing to think that he got his first cap in 1999. I played against him in 2000 and he was the best player on the field. All these years later he is still playing excellent rugby.
"We realise it's a great occasion to be involved in his last game but I'm more concerned about what he will do as a player and how we can stop him than the other stuff.
"However, we believe have built up a lot of momentum and there will be everything to play for in the final."
With the match being played at the Royal Dublin Society ground, O'Driscoll hopes home advantage can give Leinster an edge in the final.
"I feel good and it's nice to have one more final to play for. It will be tough, but it's nice to have it at home," he said.
"You can only ask for opportunities to be in finals and win them, but the rest is up to you. Then you hope to get the job done."