Edinburgh Rugby’s acting head coach Duncan Hodge admits he needs more of his current starting XV to step up as leaders on the field as they aim to get a morale-boosting result tonight at Leinster (7.35pm).
The Capital side make the trip to Dublin in the Guinness PRO12 sitting ninth in the table and with just one win in six in the league.
Already without key men Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Rory Sutherland, Anton Bresler, John Hardie, Hamish Watson and Nasi Manu for various reasons, things have got worse for Hodge in recent days.
Stuart McInally has picked up a leg injury, Michael Allen has a concussion and along with Viliame Mata (knee) and Viliami Fihaki (hand), they are missing from the matchday squad.
Edinburgh are up against it as a result against the third placed side – and Hodge wants others to step into leadership roles at the RDS.
“It can be quite difficult in terms of leadership,” Hodge stated.
“All of our experienced guys – Dickinson, Ford, Nel, McInally and Gilchrist – have been away at the start of the week recently [either injured or with Scotland].
“Sometimes guys have been coming back later in the week before matches, like Damien Hoyland, but it can be tricky as you want your leaders there all week.
“It is just one of these challenges, I’m sure other clubs have got the same.
“Now I have seen the likes of Chris Dean and Magnus Bradbury coming in and doing a good job as leaders, they’re learning a lot during this period and it has given them a chance flourish.
“We hope that others step up too, help captain Neil Cochrane and push us on to a victory.”
With a number of players missing, many supporters would have felt that Gilchrist – released by Scotland to play – would have started this one in the second-row.
He is only on the bench though and Hodge explained: “The other second-row guys [Fraser McKenzie and Ben Toolis] have played well, but Gilcho will get a good shot.
“He played a lot earlier in the season and probably by his own admission he didn’t play quite as well as he would have wanted, so we are just looking for a few things for him to improve on to get back to his best.
“It’s not the easiest just now with guys going away and coming back from the national camp, but we’re looking for him to do well in this game when he comes on.”
In all, Hodge has made five changes from the starting XV that lost to Ulster seven days ago, Glenn Bryce, Duncan Weir, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Cochrane and Cornell du Preez coming in.
With the back-row cupboard nearly bare, second-row Lewis Carmichael looks set to cover those spots from the bench.
“Moving on from last week into this, it’s about consistency and decision making under pressure,” Hodge added.
“That’s what we’ve focused on this week because that’s what we need to improve. Individuals just need to understand their own roles and think a bit more about game context because there was time last week when we played some great stuff and then just let them off the hook with decision making errors that are really hurting us.”
Tom Brown starts on the wing and yesterday he signed a two-year contract extension.
The 26-year-old said: “Edinburgh is a really exciting team to be part of at the moment, there is a lot of young talent coming through and many of them are in their ‘breakthrough year’ currently.
“In terms of this year we are not sitting where we would like in the table, our focus now is to creep up that table. We have had a disruptive season, but it is not a case of waiting for next season and then building again, we want to move up the way now.”
Edinburgh team: 15. Glenn Bryce; 14. Damien Hoyland; 13. Chris Dean; 12. Phil Burleigh; 11. Tom Brown; ; 10. Duncan Weir; 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Jack Cosgrove; 2. Neil Cochrane (C); 3. Murray McCallum; 4. Fraser McKenzie; 5. Ben Toolis; 6. Magnus Bradbury; 7. Jamie Ritchie; 8. Cornell Du Preez. Subs: 16. George Turner; 17. Derrick Appiah; 18. Nick Beavon; 19. Grant Gilchrist; 20. Lewis Carmichael; 21. Nathan Fowles; 22. Jason Tovey; 23. Blair Kinghorn.