COACH Michael Bradley has given a vote of confidence to the youngest player in Edinburgh Rugby’s starting line-up at Saracens in the Heineken European Cup tomorrow.
Having made a first start in last weekend’s home clash with Munster, coming directly up against Springbok Brendan Botha, prop Robin Hislop, 20, now goes head-to-head with British and Irish Lion, Matt Stevens.
It is a baptism of fire by any standards but Bradley is sure the youngster will rise to the challenge at Vicarage Road, Watford.
“We are very fond of Robin as a player” said Bradley, adding: “His attitude is excellent, he is young and has an opportunity a bit like Matt Scott last year.
“There are a couple of injuries in his position, we make no secret of that.
“But, we still had no hesitation selecting Robin and it is nice to see another young prop, Alex Allan, on the bench.”
Comparison with Matt Scott will raise eyebrows as the centre rocketed to international prominence in the same season in which he debuted for Edinburgh albeit aged 21.
More physicality is required in the front row but Hislop is up to the challenge and his retention enables Bradley to try a virtually unheard of approach – continuity.
A single change from the team that lost to Munster – Netani Talei for David Denton –contrasts with the following sequence of team changes between games since the season began: 4, 4, 3, 7, 10, 6, 6, 9, 7, 6, 7, 4, 8, 7, 6, 4 and 5. Crucial for Bradley is to ensure a Saracens side whose goal-kicking stand off, Owen Farrell, he rates “world class” don’t settle.