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'Everyone’s got an opinion': Franco defends Challenge Cup Final selections

REACTION: Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith defended the make-up of his team after they crumbled against Toulon in the Challenge Cup Final in Dublin.

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The Scottish region were blown away by their French counterparts at Lansdowne Road, conceding six tries as they lost 19-43 in their maiden EPCR final.

Three of those scores came inside the first 25 minutes, with Glasgow’s line-out failing them in crucial areas on the park.

Poorly executed Glasgow line-outs thrown by Fraser Brown, the veteran preferred at hooker to George Turner, was the genesis for two of the three early tries that had Toulon galivanting towards the trophy.

Experienced lock Richie Gray was also on the bench until the 66th minute and after the match, Smith was asked if the veteran lock could have made a difference if he had been included from the start.

“Everyone’s got an opinion on that,” said Smith.

“I could have picked 15 other guys and everyone would have been complaining. We made the decision with the information that we had.

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“I think the players we picked deserved the opportunity. There was a specific plan to it and that was that so yeah, it’s unfair to say we have picked the wrong team.”

The story continues below…

Meanwhile, Smith says there will be an inquest into his team’s sluggish and error-prone start.

“It’s something I will ask the players,” he said.

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“It was surprising because mentally I think we were in a good place.

“The first try, [Baptiste] Serin put that little grubber through, and we always knew they were going to score one try from his brilliance and they did.

“That can happen. The next two, we were inaccurate at the line-out and handed them two tries.

“So, after 20 minutes we were chasing a 0-21 scoreline in a final and it’s not easy. That’s a lesson learned — we gave them two chances and they took them both.

“Execution in one-off games is very important. In Europe, it’s much more clinical and the standard of the play is elevated in the EPCR competitions. It’s a short tournament and you don’t get another chance [in the knockout rounds].

“We have to be clinical but that has been a learning for the team throughout the season. This is season one for this group.

“This is not the end for us, this is just the start. It’s a stepping stone.”

Sources: @RugbyPass & @ChallengeCup_

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