Franco Smith claims Benetton defeat was a hangover from previous Glasgow Warriors regime

Glasgow Warriors’ defeat last week by Benetton was a dispiriting occasion but it was a bit strange to hear new coach Franco Smith lay the blame at the feet of his predecessor.

Smith took over from Danny Wilson in the summer and has had a frustrating start to his reign with both the club’s scheduled pre-season friendlies cancelled through no fault of their own. It left Glasgow undercooked for their URC opener in Italy and the hosts pulled off a bonus-point win.

Smith is keen to shed the “baggage” of last season which ended with five consecutive losses, costing Wilson his job. The new coach believes the reverse in Treviso can be attributed to a hangover from that bad run. Wilson may beg to differ.

“Our theme this week was to get rid of the past results,” Smith said ahead of Friday’s home game against Cardiff. “We’re referencing too much to what happened last year. It’s our own story. It’s a new beginning.

Rory Darge is back in the Glasgow Warriors starting XV. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“Last week for me formed part of the previous coaching group’s regime as a lot of the habits we saw last weekend were not coached in this little pre-season that we had together.

“And we understand that there’s a lot of baggage that we’re carrying from previous years and we’ve got to get rid of it. This is a new start. Hopefully this game at home will be that line in the sand.”

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Smith had hoped to get last season out of their system in friendlies against Worcester and Ulster but both games bit the dust.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith will take charge of the team at home for the first time against Cardiff. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“I wish we had lost to Worcester or Ulster by 40 or 50 points to get that out of our system,” he said. “But unfortunately we had to go with all that baggage to Benetton, an Italian side, nobody wants to lose to them. And the fact I was going back there might have carried a little bit of weight as well. It was too much baggage we can’t control. This week it is about writing our own story.”

Smith has stiffened up his pack for the new chapter, bringing in Scotland men Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings and Rory Darge for Johnny Matthews, Lucio Sordoni, Lewis Bean and Sintu Manjezi. He’s stuck by the same backline which means another outing at stand-off for Tom Jordan, with Domingo Miotti getting the nod ahead of Duncan Weir on the bench.

“I’m a backline player and confidence is everything,” Smith said by way of explanation.. “We’ve got to grow that. For me there’s no need to scratch where it doesn’t itch. There was some good stuff in the second half of the game [against Benetton]. We’re growing as a group. It was a pre-season outing if I can put it that way, even though it was in a competition. There are no panic buttons here.”

Smith is outwardly calm but he knows this is a key game as he seeks to make a mark at Glasgow. The club has not played at Scotstoun since April 1 and a victory would go a long way to soothing some fevered brows among the support.

“It’s my first home game and a lot of the players’ too,” said Smith. “I’m just hoping we can manage the emotion properly.”

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