Glasgow Warriors: Strachan gives pep talk to Pro12 champions

By Amy MacBeathBBC Sport Scotland
Gordon Strachan, Al Kellock
Gordon Strachan and former Glasgow captain Al Kellock address the Warriors players

Gregor Townsend hopes the visit of the national football manager Gordon Strachan will help inspire Glasgow Warriors to a top-two Pro12 finish.

Strachan watched the Warriors squad train on Thursday ahead of Friday's match against Zebre.

"He told some great stories," said Townsend.

"More importantly, he told the players what he believes makes a successful team, what's important in life and sport, sharing memories as a team."

The Warriors head coach believes it was a useful exercise ahead of two crucial games at the end of the regular league season that will determine if they play home or away in the play-off semi-final.

"It was funny and inspiring," Townsend added.

Earlier in the season Townsend said it would be difficult for the defending champions to secure another top-four finish.

Glasgow currently sit third in the table, two points off leaders Leinster and Connacht and that sought-after home play-off spot.

And given 2015-16 has been particularly challenging for the Warriors - they were eighth in the table as recently as February - Townsend believes making the semi-finals would be a great achievement for his side.

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend believes Strachan's visit has given his players a boost

"Everybody aims to get into the top four so you're in a knockout situation, but to do that again after the year we've had would be fantastic," he said.

"Obviously an extra bit of adrenaline playing in front of a home crowd and giving that extra bit of effort in the knowledge it could be the last home game will help."

This week it was announced Fijian second-row Leone Nakarawa would be leaving Scotstoun for France with a year left on his contract. It was closely followed by news of a further nine players departing at the end of the season, including forwards Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Tyron Holmes.

Hooker Kevin Bryce has also signed a two-year deal with rivals Edinburgh, with back-row James Eddie announcing his retirement from rugby with immediate effect, having played 126 matches with the Warriors.

So is the mass departure a sign of things to come, or just a necessary slimming down of a bloated squad?

"We do have a big squad, 48 trained on Monday this week and there's another seven injured but there was always going to be players leaving like any season and players replacing them through our academy," Townsend explained.

"[Money from the sale of Nakarawa] is really to reinvest in the squad and we've already done that to an extent with players re-signing or bringing in a couple that we've already announced, so we're almost complete with our recruitment for next year.

"I'm delighted with the squad we're putting together for next year but it will be two or three less than this season."