Edinburgh excelling in school of hard knocks

Phil Burleigh is helped off during the match against Lyon
Phil Burleigh is helped off during the match against Lyon
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Edinburgh Rugby are facing the prospect of digging deep into resources and perhaps handing out competitive debuts in the daunting atmosphere of a visit to Guinness Pro 12 champions Leinster on Friday.

All clubs suffer injury hardship, but it seems that a Hallowe’en fixture at the Royal Dublin Showground has provided a macabre twist, with more than a complete Edinburgh team currently sidelined.

On top of that, it is likely that coach Alan Solomons will be obliged to stand down several players pencilled into the national squad for the annual Autumn Test series kick-off against Argentina the following weekend.

The irony is that until a few days ago, Edinburgh had never won three consecutive matches since Solomons took up the reins at the beginning of last season.

Now, a trip across the Irish Sea offers the prospect of a first “four-timer” since 2007 when Leinster (29-10), Glasgow (35-31), Cardiff (11-10) and Leicester (17-12) were defeated in successive matches and a boost to morale that would help assuage a roller-coaster campaign so far.

For the record, a “selection” made up of absentees would only involve slight flexibility in positions and might read: Phil Burleigh, Brett Thompson, Matt Scott, Dougie Fife, Jamie Farndale, Carl Bezuidenhout, Wicus Blaauw, Neil Cochrane, Alasdair Dickinson, Grant Gilchrist, Anton Bresler, Roddy Grant, Cornell du Preez and Mike Coman.

Others unable to be considered include Fraser McKenzie, Stuart McInally, Damian Hoyland, Sam Beard, Hamish Watson and the Toolis twins, Ben and Alex, while Grayson Hart, who had been struggling with a rib injury, played for Edinburgh A against Ontario last night.

In fact, when Edinburgh were issuing their latest bulletin, it appeared the list was so long that several players, such as Hoyland, were overlooked.

Where is the situation most acute? That would appear to be in the back five of the scrum.

Of the second rows, only Ollie Atkins is fit and has started this season and it could be teenager Jamie Ritchie, earmarked for flanker and recipient of a run-out in the pre-season friendly against Leicester, could get the nod.

Fortunately, David Denton is now off the injured list and he too could be considered for a role he filled against Munster last season, even though that would be compromising this bulwarking player.

Nor might Ritchie be the only member of this summer’s Scotland Under-20 squad on stand-by as Magnus Bradbury has been gaining plaudits in the Premiership for Boroughmuir and might get thrown in at the deep end, possibly alongside Tomas Leonardi.

The chances are that international protocols will mean resting Ross Ford, Tom Heathcote and Tim Visser, possibly to the bench to ease the situation.

So, what price an Edinburgh side along the following lines running out at Leinster: Cuthbert; Dean, Strauss, Dominguez, McLennan, Tonks, Hidalgo-Clyne or Kennedy, Sutherland, Hilterbrand, Nel, Atkins, Denton, Leonardi, Bradbury, Ritchie. Subs: Andress, Dell, Ford, Visser, Brown, Atiga, Heathcote, Kennedy or Hidalgo-Clyne.

Regardless, medical staff are likely today to be working flat out today.