Alex Dunbar: Strength in depth can help Glasgow Warriors regain top spot

Alex Dunbar
Centre Alex Dunbar could make his 100th appearance for Glasgow Warriors against Connacht on Saturday
Pro14: Connacht v Glasgow Warriors
Venue: Galway Sportsground Date: Saturday, 2 September Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Alba

Centre Alex Dunbar hopes the strengthening of Glasgow Warriors' squad over the summer will help them challenge for the Pro14 title.

Dave Rennie's first competitive match in charge of last season's sixth-place team is on Saturday, away to Connacht in the league opener.

"This year we want to focus on getting back to the top," said Dunbar, 27.

"Hard work has been done this summer getting recruits in for international periods when boys are away."

This season, the competition has expanded to 14 teams with the addition of South African clubs Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs.

Warriors won the Pro12 in season 2014-15 but last term, in Gregor Townsend's final season before taking over as Scotland head coach, the Scotstoun missed out on the play-offs, with 11 wins and as many defeats.

It was Warriors' first finish outside the top four since 2012.

Part of Glasgow's relatively disappointing season can be put down to the swathe of players they lost to international duty.

To help prevent a repeat, Glasgow have made 11 new signings, among them versatile back Ruaridh Jackson, hooker George Turner, wing/centre Lelia Masaga, Italian international back-rower Samuela Vunisa and prop Oli Kebble, while scrum-half Niko Matawalu is back training at his former club.

"It's exciting times. Quite a few changes happened in the summer," added Dunbar, who will make his 100th Warriors appearance if he is selected for the Connacht game.

Dave Rennie
Dave Rennie is preparing to make his coaching debut in the Pro14 with Glasgow Warriors

"A lot of the core boys have stayed. We were disappointed with last year. When everyone was here we played well.

"We let ourselves down in a few of the games. It's tough when the international boys go away and you lose pretty much the starting team.

"We want to push and be the best again."

New head coach Rennie has been joined at Scotstoun by former Scotland assistant coaches Jason O'Halloran and Jonathon Humphreys.

"He's changed a few things but it suits our play," said Dunbar of Rennie.

"He wants to play attacking rugby and take teams on so we're looking forward to it. He's just got a different thought on a few areas.

"The new S&C (strength and conditioning) boys have come in and all the boys are in great shape.

"As a squad we can challenge each other throughout the season. There are five or six boys who can play at centre and a few in the back three who can slip in to the centre as well."

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