Boroughmuir have been handed an influx of professional experience as they bid to overcome a Currie side buoyant after competing in the British and Irish Cup when the teams clash at Malleny Park tomorrow.
And, the resumption of the Premiership in its revised format, with teams either in a title or relegation group of eight, will also mark the return of former Edinburgh centre Malcolm Clapperton after suffering a torn hamstring when scoring a try on the opening day of the season for the Muir team he captains.
Clapperton links up with a side that includes Ally Warnock, Sep Visser, Harry Leonard, Robin Hislop, Sean Crombie and Lewis Niven, all of whom are either past or present Edinburgh players.
Clapperton said: “I was in the act of scoring when Dundee winger James Fleming collided with me and my leg stretched awkwardly. I had no idea then I’d be out for so long but at least I have been able to joke with Sean Crombie, our high scoring hooker with six tries, that I wanted to give him a bit of a start.
“If I’d been a 21-year-old (he is 33) I’d probably have been back in action within a few weeks but I’ve planned my comeback carefully and one of the attractions tomorrow will be seeing how the likes of Harry Leonard has developed since I last played.”
Added Clapperton, who made the last of three appearances for Edinburgh in a try-scoring display against Llanelli in 2004: “This latest line-up has got to be one of the strongest Boroughmuir have fielded for years. Having lost twice to Currie this season, in league and cup, I have a feeling we are going to need all the talent we can muster.”
In fact, the league encounter at Meggetland saw Currie scrape home 18-15 in a match of high quality. This latest instalment could hinge on the impact of a front row which has Edinburgh youngsters Hislop and Niven, who makes his debut for Muir, propping Crombie who, after spells with Edinburgh and Borders, had a stint at Newcastle Falcons.
In restarting from eighth place Muir’s target will be the top three and a British and Irish Cup slot, whereas Currie lie fourth, nine points behind leaders Melrose and only a 100 per cent record from here is likely to see them claim a third title.
Currie coach Ally Donaldson, who is forced to omit Mark Cairns, Barry Mansfield and Doug Fife in the short term, says: “We have steadily improved throughout the season and hope to take our recent good form into this match.”
Last weekend Currie showed just how ruthless mixing with English, Welsh and Irish pro opposition had made them by thrashing Lasswade 91-7 in the Cup.
Playing in group B will be a new experience for Heriot’s, who kick-off at Watsonians having warmed up by facing Dundee and Stirling.
Coach Graham Marshall says: “Most niggling injuries have cleared, allowing us the luxury of a full squad to select from. Gregor Lawson gives us more flexibility in the back three and OJ Brown [tand-off] allows more options throughout the backline.
“The forwards have a settled look with young Struan Cessford getting the nod ahead of Gavin Cameron (at prop).”
A player to watch could be flanker Fraser Brown, who grabbed four tries in three league games before the break when he successfully converted from hooker.
Watsonians, fresh from facing Boroughmuir in a friendly last weekend, are bolstered by former under-20 cap Ross Aitken returning at centre after injury while, in the forwards, ex- Scotland A man Mark Rennie has rejoined and will turn out at second row.
Entering Group B having won the Second Division by eight points, the slates are now wiped clean in this pool. Stewart’s Melville kick-off with a visit to Hawick while Edinburgh Accies are also Borders-bound with a trip to Jed-Forest.