Glasgow Warriors’ swords sharpened ahead of Ulster semi-final

Glasgow’s Adam Hastings and Ulster’s Rory Best at St James’ Gate, Dublin, ahead of their Guinness PRO14 semi-final clash at Scotstoun on Friday. Picture: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Glasgow Warriors “know what not to do” as they prepare for Friday’s PRO14 semi-final visit of Ulster, says assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys. Warriors were well beaten by Scarlets at this stage last year after a three-week break from competitive action.

Glasgow’s last match came on April 27 but Humphreys says lessons have been learned from last term’s failings.

“We have done a lot of in-house competitions, trying to keep the competitive edge we have got,” he said. “We were here this time last year, so we sort of know what not to do.

"But everything has been about competitions, whether it’s fun, we have been trying to push the competitive element to everything we have done.”

Dave Rennie’s side qualified for the play-offs early in 2018 and won just three league games after the New Year. This season, they have finished strongly, winning their final eight league fixtures, a run which included a 30-7 victory over Ulster.

“It’s not ideal but we feel we are in a pretty good spot,” said Humphreys. “It’s something we have talked a lot about all the way through the season.

When we reviewed last year, we felt we came to the end and perhaps our energy levels weren’t where they needed to be.

“So we have tailored a lot of things differently this year. We needed to be in a position where we play our best rugby now and hopefully that’s going to be the case.”

Meanwhile, Ulster have signed Highlanders and Otago utility back Matt Faddes. The 27-year-old has scored 19 tries in 43 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders and has played for New Zealand’s Sevens team.

Faddes said he was “looking forward to the experience of living and working in a new environment”.

“When I visited in 2016, I was struck by the family, community feel to the club,” said Faddes, who made his debut for his home province Otago in 2011. Faddes played for the Barbarians against Fiji in Belfast in November 2016 and got on the scoresheet.

Ulster coach Dan McFarland believes he will bring “experience, skill and creativity to our backline”.

“He’s quick and has shown throughout his career the ability to beat defenders with his footwork and acceleration,” said McFarland.

His versatility will also be very important for us, meaning he is able to play various positions alongside our talented young backs.

Faddes is Ulster’s latest signing following the captures of Leinster and Ireland prop Jack McGrath, Australia second row Sam Carter and Irish-qualified front row Gareth Milasinovich.

Elsewhere Dean Ryan admits it has taken “a unique challenge” to lure him back into the British domestic game as Dragons’ new director of rugby.

The former Bristol, Gloucester, and Worcester boss will leave his job as the Rugby Football Union’s head of international player development, which he has held since 2016. As part of his new role, he will join the Newport-based Dragons’ board and have responsibility for all rugby matters, on and off the pitch.

He will arrive at a region currently owned by the Welsh Rugby Union, and one which has struggled consistently to make a mark in the Guinness PRO14 or on a European stage.

“It was always going to take a unique challenge to bring me back into the club environment, and following my discussions with (Dragons chairman) David Buttress and the WRU, I’m hugely excited about what lies ahead,” said Ryan.

“If someone said six months ago I would come back into club rugby, I would probably have been pretty sceptical about it.

“But I started talking to David, and between the two of us we just asked why do we do things like this and why can’t we look at things slightly differently, and that is when I started to get excited again.”

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