Edinburgh Rugby’s latest signing, James Hilterbrand, is confident that he can bring a new dimension to the Murrayfield-based outfit’s front row after agreeing a two-year deal with the club, subject to a visa and medical examination.
The 24-year-old brings versatility, having played in both prop berths as well as at hooker, and believes that the need to switch positions to secure a contract with Western Force in Australia will increase his value to the squad. Hilterbrand, who was in the side against the midweek British & Irish Lions tourists in June, said: “I hope to bring a different rugby perspective because of my different pathway into professional rugby. I’ll definitely bring a lot of energy and heaps of passion.”
The player who represented Australia at Under-18 level but is Scottish qualified through his grandparents, is the second front row player signed by coach Alan Solomons since he took over as head coach, and comes just days after the announcement that Wicus Blaauw, a South African who has been plying his trade in France, would be arriving in the Capital next month.
Solomons believes that the two newcomers will have a dual impact, adding to the battle for a starting place, as well as sharing their knowledge with the club’s younger players. “We now have more depth and better competition for places in our front row, with our young Scottish props learning from experienced campaigners.”
Meanwhile, Solomons has declared himself satisfied with last Friday’s pre-season match against Northampton Saints at Franklins Gardens. Reflecting on a 24-6 defeat, Solomons said: “The score doesn’t matter at all, that wasn’t a league match.”
“We wanted to get everybody on the pitch, so we made some changes and obviously that disrupts your rhythm,” he added, suggesting that the numerous personnel changes in the final quarter had influenced the final score line but had not coloured his view of a satisfactory outing that came at the end of a week-long training camp at Loughborough University.
“That isn’t a reflection on the guys that came on, it’s just that the rhythm was disrupted at that point when we were right in that game, at 7-6. I thought we played really well for the first 60 to 65 minutes.”
Solomons will have another chance to assess his squad on Friday when Edinburgh meet Newcastle Falcons at Hawick’s Mansfield Park (kick-off 7.45pm).