Edinburgh restore their international front row for tomorrow’s vital Guinness Pro12 match against the Dragons in Newport, but flanker John Hardie misses out with injury.
The Scotland trio of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel are all pitched straight back in from Six Nations duty as Alan Solomons’ side chase the top-six finish that would guarantee a return to the European Champions Cup next season.
Edinburgh are seventh in the Pro12, two places and four points above their Welsh opponents, who they have beaten six times in their past seven meetings.
“John Hardie is not right, he’s taken a bang on the neck and his groin is a little troublesome so he can’t play,” explained Solomons.
“Hamish [Watson] has been playing well and will play, with Stu McInally and Suzz [Rory Sutherland] on the bench. Matt Scott is still out with injury, Gilco [Grant Gilchrist] is out for the season. We do get back the front row but there’s nothing we can do about the other players, it’s just the way it is.”
Edinburgh’s campaign has hit a sticky patch after a good start to both the season, with four straight wins, and the year, when they secured the double over Glasgow.
Solomons is confident that his players can raise themselves for the crucial run in.
“When you have nine guys away with Scotland and you’re missing leaders that’s going to knock you,” said the coach. “It’s not easy for the front row guys to come off the back of Tests and play straight away, it’s an adjustment.
“The boys are all keen as mustard but I don’t expect them to be at their best until after the break. But there’s no alternative.
“We have to take one game at a time. Every game is critical for us. We can’t look beyond the Dragons. They are a different team at Rodney Parade than when they come to Murrayfield.”
Edinburgh confirmed the signing of Western Force centre Solomoni ‘Junior’ Rasolea on a two-year deal yesterday.
The Brisbane-born 24-year-old represented Fiji in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in 2010 and 2011, helping his side to sixth place at the latter tournament. Later that year he was selected for Australia 7s and played in the squads that competed in the London and Glasgow legs.
Rasolea said: “I am really excited about arriving in Edinburgh and getting stuck into northern hemisphere rugby next season.
“I have heard great things about the Pro12 and am looking forward to joining up with the lads in the summer.
“I hope that my knowledge of Super Rugby will be a positive influence on the squad and it will be great to share playing ideas.
“I really enjoy getting my hands on the ball and enjoy the physical side of the game. It’s also going to be great to play with and against players from different playing backgrounds.
“Edinburgh is a beautiful city and it’s going to be a great experience for my family. My wife is from the UK and so she has explained about the weather!”
Solomons said: “Junior is a talented young player who has established himself this season as a starter for the Western Force Super Rugby team.
“I am delighted that he has decided to join the club and have no doubt that he will play an important role in moving the club forward.”
Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, meanwhile, will make his 50th appearance for Edinburgh on Sunday and he said: “It’s a great milestone for me but the biggest thing this weekend is not about me, it’s about the team and the position we’re in.
“We’re obviously looking at a top-six finish and will be going all out to get the result in Newport.”
Hidalgo-Clyne cited the visit of Dragons to BT Murrayfield a year ago, in Edinburgh’s European Challenge Cup semi-final win, as the outstanding moment of his Edinburgh career.
“It’ll be good play against Dragons again this week and hopefully repeat that performance.”
Dragons welcome back Wales Internationals Tyler Morgan and Taulupe Faletau to their starting XV.