FIRST the good news: No lions, so, no hands through the fence and no tour-ending nibbles. Clearly the Glasgow Warriors players have been watching the social media outlets.

That means they have learned from Scott Baldwin’s experience last week when the Ospreys hooker had eight stitches in his hand after being bitten in a game park.

The Guinness PRO14 schedule sees the Scots as the next group to head to the southern tip of Africa, but Ali Price, their scrum half, emphasises they are far too focussed on rugby matters to get out into the countryside. So, even though rugby followers across the world have been fixated by Baldwin’s bizarre injury, when he tried to pet a lion and the animal objected in the only way it knew,, Glasgow’s players have been concentrating on adapting to the changes in heat and altitude.

Loading article content

“I’ve just been training then chilling around the hotel,” Price said from Johannesburg, where the team is currently based. “A few people went to a croc farm but I don’t think there was any touching involved. All hands were kept behind fences. There’s been no lions but the weather has been really good. There were a coupe of rain showers but when we’ve been outside during the day, it has been mid-to-high 20s, pretty sunny – it’s been a really good experience. Training has been good fun and I think everyone is looking forward to the game. Everything is a whole new environment for pretty much all of us. We’ve not had huge amounts of time off because it is a shorter week for us.

“We’ve still been out as a group and had free time where we can go and explore a little bit but it is more about being away together. We’re spending a lot of time with each other and everyone is getting on well, so from that point of view we are getting closer as a group. In terms of exploring and things like that we’ve not done a huge amount – were here for the game on Friday, that’s the priority.”

They all know the focus has to be on tomorrow’s game. The Cheetahs, who they face in Bloemfontein, have found their form at home, beating Zebre, Leinster and the Ospreys on consecutive weekends, scoring an average of 45 points a game.

“We’re all looking forward to it,” said Price. “They’ve hit their straps recently with three good wins on the trot. They are a big physical pack, love their set-piece, and they’ve got a lot of gas in the back three. We see it as a brilliant challenge for us to keep going with how we’ve started the season. We’re looking forward to playing a nice, quick, open game which I think will suit both teams. It’s a massive challenge but one we are up to and looking forward to.”

Price is also confident about the challenge of playing at altitude, observing: “We did a session with prolonged periods of play – it is slightly different, you lose your breath a bit quicker but what we soon realised is that you recover quickly.

“I feel we are in a good spot. The training will help in the game. We like to think we are a fit side and are not going to use that [the altitude] as an excuse. We have been training in Johannesburg. Apparently that is a higher altitude than Bloemfontein and we are coping with it all right here, so I am sure that come the game we are not going be thinking about it. We are just going to go out there and play.”