Townsend has the final word on Glasgow’s Stuart Hogg

Warriors coach says fullback is staying but has been left out of Saturday’s league final against Leinster

Fri, May 30, 2014, 18:31

The Stuart Hogg situation needed clearing up ahead of tomorrow’s Pro 12 final and Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend did just that.

Hogg, Scotland’s incumbent fullback and Lions tourist last year, has been excluded from Glasgow’s squad to face Leinster at the RDS but will not be leaving the club this summer.

Ulster’s signing of South African Louis Ludik on a two-year-deal, coupled with the Scottish Rugby Union insisting that Hogg honours the last year on his contract appears to have put an end to any further conjecture.

Still, Hogg didn’t travel on today’s team flight.

“It was a difficult decision,” said Townsend. “We have a number of players that missed out on selection that feel they should be in the team and are playing well. We used 36 players in our nine game winning run. It was one of those tough decisions.”

When pressed on Hogg’s meeting with Ulster director of rugby David Humphreys in April and interest from Saracens, Townsend added: “No, he is contracted to us so he will be staying in Glasgow next season.”

Peter Murchie has usurped the talented 21-year-old with veteran centre/wing Sean Lamont providing outside back cover.

“Peter has played in all of our last nine games and we have won all of them. He is a different type of player (to Hogg). Fearless. Excellent work rate. Excellent under the high ball.”

Hogg has had a disastrous few months since being red carded against Wales in the Six Nations, suffering a hamstring injury before Townsend excluded him from his play-off plans after he was photographed looking around Ravenhill.

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor also had a difficult selection decision with Jordi Murphy excluded despite breaking into the Ireland squad during the Six Nations. The backrow combination of Shane Jennings, Rhys Ruddock and Jamie Heaslip with Seán O’Brien on the bench left no room for Murphy.

“What happens in the national environment is largely irrelevant to us,” said O’Connor. “It’s not like he is behind any mugs, he is behind world class blokes and from that end it is tough on anyone who misses out. That’s the reality of it.”

Regarding Darragh Fanning’s inclusion on the bench, O’Connor added: “He’s probably last man standing to be fair. That’s where we are at. We’ve got a couple of injuries in the back three. He has been very, very good for us having recovered well from a broken arm...he thoroughly deserves his slot in the 23.”

Other changes see Mike McCarthy return from a calf strain, with Quinn Roux dropping out entirely, Zane Kirchner replaces the injured Dave Kearney on the right wing and seniority prevails at tighthead prop as Mike Ross starts ahead of Marty Moore.

“Games against Glasgow have been very, very tough,” said Leo Cullen on the eve of his retirement. “Being in the RDS we hope will be an advantage to us. It’s always a good reward to the fans not to have to travel too far. Hopefully we can finish it off in style, it would be nice.”

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Zane Kirchner; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Mike Ross; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (capt). Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen, Seán O’Brien, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Darragh Fanning.

Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Sean Maitland, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Chris Cusiter; Gordon Reid, Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh; Jonny Gray, Alastair Kellock (capt); Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Ryan Grant, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Leone Nakarawa, Niko Matawalu, Ruaridh Jackson, Sean Lamont.

Referee: Nigel Owens

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