Alan Solomons set to mine deeper as Edinburgh resume

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne looks ahead to Edinburgh's clash with Ulster (SNS/SRU)
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne looks ahead to Edinburgh's clash with Ulster (SNS/SRU)
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The remainder of coach Alan Solomons’ tenure at Edinburgh Rugby begins tonight with a visit to Ulster when the RaboDirect PRO12 league resumes after a break for internationals.

And the significance is summed up by 20-year-old scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne when comparing what is expected of him now with the demands placed on him when he made his only previous start back in September, against Scarlets.

Solomons arrived from South Africa on the eve of the campaign, proclaiming it would take a couple of months before he could offer an assessment of his squad and that the equivalent of “pre-season” had to be undertaken up until the interruption.

“In the last game I started it was different. I went into that game knowing that anything in our own half we were going to kick,” said Hidalgo-Clyne, adding: “We weren’t playing too much rugby. Now we are looking to put a bit more pressure on them (opponents). Hopefully we will be more expansive.”

Solomons was circumspect when asked about any different approach now that a bedding-in process has been completed, preferring to put the emphasis on how opportunities have to be given to those previously regarded as fringe players as the Autumn Test programme reaches a conclusion.

Adroitly avoiding setting targets, especially against the team he previously coached to a three-year unbeaten home record in the Heineken European Cup, Solomons said of a Capital outfit which gives a first start to second row Ollie Atkins and is poised to introduce Sam Beard, Ben Toolis and Grayson Hart for debuts off the bench: “I thought that when it came towards the back end of these two months we covered off on most of what we had to cover off. It’s challenging for the lads that are playing now because of the way it was being structured.

“We didn’t do a lot of rotation because we needed consistency. So, a lot of the lads have not had a lot of game time. One must take that into account.”

Ironically, having taken a while to get into their stride, the break arrived with Edinburgh beginning to generate momentum with three wins from their last four games.

Would Solomons have preferred to proceed on a weekly basis?

“It’s been very, very tough for the players. We had 11 games back-to-back adding in two pre-season matches. They needed the break. Everybody is now au fait with the systems, although to be fair not all have had opportunities to play and preparations focused on those who were playing.”

One of those who comes in from the cold is Atkins, whose shifts have been restricted to three off the bench.

“It has been frustrating but I understand why and that it comes with professional sport.

“I intend to take my opportunity to stake a claim this weekend and help generate momentum for the guys coming back from internationals.

“Momentum lifts everyone.

Scots qualified through a father from Dunbar, Atkins will return from Belfast and head for Murrayfield where several of his old New South Wales Waratahs colleagues will be representing Australia.

“I am Australian so I go for Australia. But I will be singing both anthems,” he said.