EDINBURGH No.8 Cornell du Preez has no concerns about playing in France a week after the deadly Paris terror attacks and is confident of making it two wins from two in Pool 5 of the European Challenge Cup.
The two-try hero from last Friday’s 28-10 win over Grenoble at BT Murrayfield packs down again at the back of the scrum in the Aquitaine region of south-west France tonight and said: “We trust the security will be top notch so for us it is just playing the game and getting on with it.
“Agen will be playing with a lot of passion. They will be coming out there to play for sure.”
Coach Alan Solomons says Edinburgh will accommodate any plans French club Agen have to mark the shocking terrorist outrages of a week ago, which left at least 129 people dead.
Speaking at BT Murrayfield yesterday before the squad departed for France, Solomons said: “Whatever Agen require on the day, whatever they think is appropriate, we will happily comply with that. That’s no problem at all.
“We understand that what has happened has been horrific. We are obviously deeply appreciative of the situation and will comply with whatever they need.”
The South African said his players were aware that playing in France at this time is not just another game and added: “Even the young boys are pretty up to speed with what is going on. Apart from the papers, the general social media means they are au fait with the situation. I was reading some comments that Jamie Ritchie made earlier in the week and you could tell that he was fully appreciative of the situation. I think that applies to everybody.
“I think sport can be a great unifying factor and I think, certainly, in circumstances like these sport can play a role.”
Solomons makes five changes, three in the backs and two in the pack, from last week’s match.
Tom Brown switches from left to right wing as Tongan internationalist Otulea Katoa, who has been playing for Boroghmuir, makes his first start for Edinburgh, in the No.11 jersey, and scrum-half Sean Kennedy moves up from the bench. Damien Hoyland, who has played every game this season, is rested along with international scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Lock Fraser McKenzie returns from a two-week suspension to partner Anton Bresler in the second row, with John Hardie and last Friday’s man of the match, Du Preez, remaining at openside and No.8 respectively. Back row Nasi Manu moves up from the bench to start at blindside.
Scotland Under-20 captain and back row Ritchie could make his first professional competitive appearance in European competition. The 19-year-old made his Edinburgh debut last season in the away Guinness Pro12 league fixture against Leinster at the RDS.
Skipper Mike Coman remains at home to nurse a sore neck, with hooker Ross Ford taking the captaincy.
Agen are currently propping up the Top 14 table and have named a young side for tonight’s clash with league survival clearly a greater priority than Europe.
But Du Preez still expects a tough test and added: “Grenoble are probably a better team in general than they are but Agen will want to play with a lot of flair and momentum, a typical French style.
“We are looking at a fast game coming up, so our defence will have to be top notch to deal with that.”