Glasgow fringe players can stake a claim, says Kelly Brown

Jonny Gray playing for Glasgow Warriors against Edinburgh
Jonny Gray will miss Glasgow's start to next season

Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown believes injuries to Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray could provide vital game-time for Glasgow's fringe players.

The Warriors and Scotland pair are both sidelined for up to six months and will miss the opening rounds of the Pro12 and European Champions Cup.

"With the new coaching staff [at the club] it might give some of the other guys a boost," said Brown, 35.

"They now feel as if they've actually got a chance to stake a claim."

Brown says it is "a bit of an understatement" to say Hogg and Gray's injuries are "a fairly big blow for Scotland".

"Those two with Finn Russell are probably Scotland's three star players, or most famous players, so it's going to be tough for Scotland and for Glasgow," Brown explained.

"But it gives someone else a chance and it's up to that person to really step up and stake a claim."

Stuart Hogg
A facial injury curtailed Hogg's involvement with the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand

Hogg was forced out of the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand with a facial injury, then underwent surgery on an underlying shoulder problem, while Gray had his wrist operated on after Scotland's June Tests.

Brown won 64 Scotland caps and made over 60 appearances for Glasgow, then spent the final seven years of his career at Saracens - where he won six trophies - before retiring at the end of last season.

'Siege mentality'

And the former flanker believes the loss of two pivotal players could bring the Warriors squad closer together, with new head coach Dave Rennie arriving from New Zealand for the coming campaign.

"It's a funny one - it can sometimes work either way," Brown told BBC Scotland. "Both of them are outstanding players. Hoggy would probably have started the Lions Tests at 15 had he been fit, and Jonny Gray was very unfortunate to miss out [on making the squad].

Stuart Hogg and Kelly Brown
Brown played alongside Hogg in the final years of his international career

"Sometimes if you're missing a couple of your star players, it can mean all of the guys that are still there adopt an almost siege mentality, and so it can even serve to galvanize a side as well.

"I think you've got to see it as an opportunity because if you start thinking, 'we're missing these guys, we're going to struggle,' you're done. Who is the next guy? Who is going to get an opportunity? And when we give this player an opportunity, can they grasp it? I think that's very exciting."

'Very, very tough on Scottish sides'

With Glasgow rather depleted by Scotland call-ups during international windows, Rennie has signed several southern hemisphere players who will not be lost to Test rugby.

Prop Oli Kebble, lock Brian Alainu'uese, flanker Callum Gibbins and winger Lelia Masaga have no international commitments and will be available for Warriors during these periods.

"I think it'll certainly help," Brown said of the additions. "It is very, very tough on the two Scottish sides, because the Scotland coaches have only got two sides to pick from then a handful of exiles.

Callum Gibbins
Back-row Gibbins scored a try for the Hurricanes in their midweek draw with the Lions

"These sides are going to lose quite a number of players, but I think both [Glasgow and Edinburgh] have got slightly more strength in depth this season and will hopefully be able to cope slightly better.

"It's very, very difficult and if there was a simple answer it would have been done by now. For the Scotland team to succeed we need two strong Scottish sides but I also think it can be quite healthy when some of the older players leave, because it opens up a pathway for someone new to come in. That's the model that Scotland has got to follow.

"As a coach, it's a balance as well - you've got to plan for the future and you've got to develop players, but at the same time, sides want success, the owners and bosses want success. It's a balancing act and it's why it's so tricky to be a very successful head coach."

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