Edinburgh stars have found World Cup transition tough

Matt Smith is one of four Test stars restored to the team by Alan Solomons
Matt Smith is one of four Test stars restored to the team by Alan Solomons
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Edinburgh centre Matt Scott admits it has been a challenge to switch from Scotland mode as he prepares to return for his club in tonight’s crunch Guinness Pro12 match against Munster at BT Murrayfield.

The 25-year-old has been encamped with the national squad since the start of June, featuring in all of Scotland’s warm-up matches and the first four games of the World Cup before a back injury cost him the chance to play in the quarter-final clash with Australia.

Scott was one of four internationalists restored to the starting XV by coach Alan Solomons for this evening’s visit of last season’s runners-up.

The front row of Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel is also back in the black and red of Edinburgh for a game which the club are desperate to win after their excellent start of four straight wins gave way to disappointing back-to-back losses to Zebre and Connacht.

“It is different to the way Scotland have been playing. Just getting used to the calls again is a challenge,” explained Scott. “We spent a lot of time with Scotland, not just a few weeks but a good two or three months, so all those calls are in your head.

“A couple of times in training I was shouting out Scotland calls and getting some funny looks from the Edinburgh boys but I quickly got back into it again. Things come back to you pretty quickly and I’m happy now.”

Will Helu moves from left wing to outside centre to partner Scott, while 18-year-old Blair Kinghorn retains his place at full-back. As expected, Greig Tonks takes the place of the injured Phil Burleigh at stand-off.

In the second row Alex Toolis is promoted from the bench for the suspended Fraser McKenzie. Mike Coman will again lead the team out at blindside, Hamish Watson returning at openside and Cornell Du Preez moving up from the bench to start in the No.8 jersey.

Solomons has decided to give new signing John Hardie more time to adapt to the systems, with fellow Scotland World Cup star David Denton receiving a bit more rest after his physically demanding tournament.

The last World Cup in 2011 was when Scott was given his chance to impress for Edinburgh and he welcomed the fact that so many new faces have grasped their opportunity this time around.

The 33-times capped former Currie player said: “We were all just delighted to see the guys winning. It was nice to come back into the team that has won a few games. In the past we would come straight back from Scotland really desperately needing to win games.

“Obviously, this is a must-win game as well, but the guys have made a great start and it’s good to see some young boys coming through, which is always the case at World Cup time.

“The last World Cup is when I got my first run of games for Edinburgh. It is a good chance to realise the strength of depth in the squad. I think we’ve got that this year. We’ve recruited well and we have some really strong areas in the team.”

Munster have been known traditionally for their forward power but they have opened in recent seasons and, with Edinburgh looking to develop a more expansive style, Scott believes this evening’s game could be an entertaining one.

He said: “It will depend on the weather and I think it is maybe meant to rain a bit in the morning. But Munster have a lot of guys in the backline who like to play rugby. They like to play off 10 and run in the wake of channels with some of the back row guys out wide. It’s not really the Munster of yesteryear with Stringer, O’Gara, O’Connell, but they still have a good pack with some dangerous guys.

“Hopefully we will see some good rugby. There are guys on both sides who can make things happen. It will be a good game.”