GLASGOW Warriors are to leave it to the last minute before deciding whether to risk Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg in this weekend’s European Champions Cup match against Leinster in Dublin. 

The star player has been struggling with a hip injury since he pulled out of the Test against Australia during the warm-up and is in a race to get back for the Six Nations.

Whether or not he makes it this week or not, Jon Humphreys, the club’s assistant coach is confident the British & Irish Lion will be back the following week and will have some rugby under his belt before Scotland open their campaign in Cardiff.

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“I think we’re going to leave that one late,” he predicted. “We won’t make a decision until probably Friday. We obviously don’t want to take a risk, so if he’s right he’ll play and if not he won’t. He’s making good progress. I think he should be right, if not this weekend then hopefully next week – it’s close.”

If Hogg does return, it would be a welcome boost for the team who already know they are going to have to try to earn a rare win in Dublin without Finn Russell and Jonny Gray, who have reached their nationally agreed playing limit and will be rested.

Not, Humphreys assured fans, that the team Glasgow will put out will be uncompetitive or that they have nothing to play for despite losing all four of their opening European Champions Cup matches.

“Regardless, we are putting out a really competitive team,” he said.

“There are players who want to prove a point and players who have already played particularly well for us, so we’ll go there with a solid side. We feel we are nowhere near where we can be and that’s been the theme all the way through this season. 

“Every time we look at the game we think we could be so much better and, at the back of our minds, we know that if we have any aspirations in the [PRO14] play-offs we have to play a lot better than we are just now.”

So far, Glasgow have been spared the sort of front-five injury crisis that has disrupted the season over at Edinburgh, though losing Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are huge blows.  Luckily, as Brown drops out to have his concussions issues investigated, George Turner is back from the ban he picked up from the Montpellier game last month and is likely to start for Dave Rennie’s side. 

At tighthead, they may well opt to switch the props round from last week when Siao Halanukonuka, the Tongan, started and D’Arcy Rae, who toured with Scotland in the summer but was not used, was on the bench. With all the tighthead problems caused by Fagerson dropping a bench on his foot, Simon Berghan being banned for the start of the Six Nations and WP Nel still recovering from his broken arm, Rae might well be needed in Gregor Townsend’s squad and desperately needs game time.

Humphreys, a hooker in his playing days, has full confidence in Rae’s ability to cope if required and believes that Scotland may well benefit long term if he is pressed into service.

“D’Arcy has lots of good qualities, but there are parts of his game he has to work on,” said Humphreys. “He knows that. He hasn’t had a huge amount of game time, hopefully in the next couple of weeks he’s going to get that. It’s tough when you are trying to get up to speed, but potentially he’s very good.

“We forget about Jamie Bhatti, who is still very, very young; George Turner is very, very young; Zander Fagerson is younger than everyone. I know we are in the middle of an injury crisis for Scotland but, long term for the World Cup and beyond, it is a good thing having to blood young people and showing them what they can do. 

“There’s been a lot of hard work put in by the Scottish Rugby Union. Four years ago [when Humphreys was Scotland forwards coach] we found ourselves with no props – or very, very few – so there has been a lot of work put into that, a lot of talent ID. It takes a while to bear fruit and hopefully this is what’s coming.”