Ross Ford wants Edinburgh fans to be patient

Ross Ford (2nd right) trains ahead of his side's clash with Newport Gwent Dragons.
Ross Ford (2nd right) trains ahead of his side's clash with Newport Gwent Dragons.
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Ross Ford makes no apologies for insisting it will be a case of substance over style when Edinburgh Rugby open their home RaboDirect Pro 12 campaign against Newport Gwent Dragons at Murrayfield tonight.

A new coaching regime is in place at Edinburgh headed by South African Alan Solomons, so what changes can supporters expect to see straightaway?

British and Irish Lions hooker Ford, who is captain in the absence of the injured Greig Laidlaw, says in no-nonsense fashion: “Fans will see a change in our approach as we’ll be a lot more direct. Hopefully it will be pleasing when we get the wins but it might not be very pretty at times.

“As long as it is effective that’s all that matters.

“We are in the business of winning games; whatever it takes we will do it.”

Few can argue with that approach given that, for the first time ever European Cup qualification could be determined in future by where Edinburgh finish in the table as no automatic qualification may be available should claims being pressed by English and French sides materialise.

At the same time Ford, though, wants Edinburgh to carry on where they left off in Munster last weekend when notching two tries.

After a disappointing opening period Edinburgh began putting moves together against the two-time European champions and edged the second half 17-12 albeit going down 34-23.

With some momentum already generated, Ford says: “We made a good comeback and scored two tries so it is a work in progress. It’ll take a wee while to get things right but we’ve started that process now and hopefully it will pay off soon. After that first half we were always fighting an uphill battle but we did get ourselves back at one stage.”

That Ford is refreshed after a summer off – he missed the Scotland tour due to a leg injury but is now fully recovered – will be another bonus for Edinburgh. “I feel really good having had a long break for the first time in a while,” he says.

Meanwhile, the job of distributing possession will go to Harry Leonard as the former Scotland age-group captain regains the stand-off berth from the injured Piers Francis.

Leonard, who started in the win over Dragons that brought the curtain down on last season will form a new half-back link with Sean Kennedy.

It will be scrum half Kennedy’s first Murrayfield start since helping Edinburgh defeat Ulster 14-8 last term.

Francis may be sidelined but he is in no doubt that while Laidlaw’s enforced absence is a blow the Edinburgh scrum-half department is particularly well stocked.

Backing Kennedy to maintain a highly promising start to his Edinburgh career, Francis said this week: “Greig is a big loss but with Sean around and Sam Hidalgo Clyne coming off the bench for a debut last week there is plenty of potential out there.”

Add in Chris Leck, whose cv includes a key role when Toulouse were beaten in a Heineken Cup quarter-final two years ago, and competition is as intense as anywhere in the squad even allowing for the fact Richie Rees has joined Dragons and will be in opposition colours tonight.

“As I saw last week it’s amazing the similarities between Sean and Sam,” said Francis. “Sam is a real livewire with great speed and the enthusiasm of a youngster.

“There’s a lot of skill there and Sean is equally quick.” As for the visitors, former Edinburgh favourite Netani Talei has promised to do his old mates no favours.

“I play for the Dragons now (and) I will do whatever I can to get the win. Whatever happens on the field stays on the field; afterwards they can be my friend. I am a Dragon and will do whatever I can to help beat Edinburgh. It’s the opposite of the game at the end of last season (when he scored a try to help beat the Dragons!).

“Then I just wanted to say farewell to my boys in a good way and make an impression on my new team, showing them what I am capable of.

“I’d love to win against my old team-mates. It will be my first game starting and I’m looking forward to it.”

Dragons coach Lyn Jones has also fired a warning shot to Edinburgh, declaring: “We are not going to make up the numbers or to go for a losing bonus point. That’s a defeatist attitude.

“We have to look at whether we are really good enough to go to Edinburgh and win and the answer is yes in capital letters.”