Edinburgh Rugby are today resigned to losing their joint top European try scorer, Ben Cairns, for the remainder of the season.
The seven-times capped centre damaged a knee in a pre-season friendly last August and underwent arthroscopic surgery two months later.
However, Cairns, 26, whose tally of nine Heineken Cup tries ranks him alongside Chris Paterson in the all-time list, is due to return to a specialist next week with Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley resigned to being without a player who made the last provisional World Cup squad.
After announcing seven changes (one positional) to the team for tomorrow’s vital Euro trip to Racing Metro of Paris when Edinburgh hope to cement pole position in their qualifying group, Bradley updated on Cairns, saying: “Ben is going into a specialist next week. It’s not looking good for the season.He has just been unfortunate. We don’t expect to see him (in action) this season.”
Returning to the Edinburgh team after missing last week’s 42-20 thumping by Ulster are backs Lee Jones, Matt Scott and Mike Blair along with forwards Grant Gilchrist, Dave Denton and Ross Rennie.
In addition, Greig Laidlaw switches from scrum-half to stand-off, allowing Mike Blair to slot in.
Included on the bench is 21-year-old hooker Alun Walker who, if he gets on, will become the sixth Edinburgh newcomer to European action in a so-far successful campaign following Grant Gilchrist, Harry Leonard, Matt Scott, Tom Brown and Jack Gilding.
Coach Bradley has hailed the emergence of these players, saying: “It is a huge complement to the Elite Development Players and the academy that the quality is there. We would not have any inhibitions about bringing in a younger player once he has trained well, shown he has the attitude and the skill levels.”
Although successful in the home leg against Racing, the Scots conceded 47 points. And with 42 points leaked last week against Ulster in the league, how concerned is Bradley?
“The way Ulster play and the way Racing play are miles apart,” he said. “Racing don’t work as hard as us. They are powerful men but not as mobile. Ulster’s defence was excellent, whereas Racing will give us opportunities but they will back themselves to come at us.”