If Edinburgh are to progress to the Heineken Cup knockout stages, they will have to improve on a record that has only twice seen them avoid defeat in 25 away matches in the competition, writes BILL LOTHIAN.
One Edinburgher with an inside track on Racing Metro predicts that prospects have not been enhanced by the return of South African World Cup winner Francois Steyn.
A Scottish Schools Cup-winning captain while at Edinburgh Academy, Fraser Gillies spent a year at Racing before heading for Exeter University. He says his hometown outfit will have to overcome not only Steyn but a team desperate to find form ahead of a major push for a place in the French Championship play-offs.
Fraser said: “I found Racing to be a fantastic club who made the players well aware of the traditions they were expected to uphold.
“Where Racing currently sit [bottom of the group] is miles away from what was predicted and fans are getting on their back.
“They may be out of European contention but soon they will entertain Toulouse in a match to be switched to the Stade de France and then Clermont Auvergne. Their chances of finishing in the top six who contest play-offs are becoming less viable if they don’t find form.
“Losing at home is quite unacceptable in France and Racing’s ambitions are reflected in recently sacking [assistant coach] Simon Mannix.
“The worry for Edinburgh must be the return of Steyn, who won’t allow feet to be taken off the pedal in the last 20 minutes. Steyn can turn a game and make Racing more disciplined.”
He added: “With Stade Francais to compete against in Paris, they are under pressure to succeed and they put a lot of emphasis on an outstanding youth structure.”
Besides Steyn, Racing will change their entire front row following a quick turnaround from facing Perpignan last week.