Rugby: Internationalist on bench for Boroughmuir clash

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Edinburgh ACCIES are set to give an unexpected debut to one of the stalwarts of Capital rugby when entertaining Boroughmuir at Raeburn Place in the Premiership tomorrow.

Among Accies’ substitutes will be Andy Kelly, the Scotland A hooker who, tonight, is expected to come off the bench at Murrayfield and make his 150th appearance for Edinburgh at some stage against Connacht.

Accies coach Simon Cross says: “Professional players are available on a draft basis but not for a second did I expect to see somebody of Andy’s calibre playing at club level so early in the season.

“Rather, I chose Andy in the draft because he has been helping coach our forwards and it made sense for him to be with us especially as he knows our guys so well.

“Having somebody of his experience to come on for up to 40 minutes depending on what is required of him in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 League tonight is a fantastic boost and, likewise, having another of our subs from out of the draft, Stuart McInally.

“I picked Stuart partly because of his tremendous strength of character that would guarantee he gives 100 per cent if ever he was called upon.”

Accies’ link with the professional ranks also extends to fielding, for the fourth successive week, Alex Black though Cross qualifies the selection, saying:

“Alex is on the Edinburgh bench and I know from my time there that even going through the warm-up drills without getting much game time can be quite tiring. We’ll review our selection before kick-off depending upon what happens with Edinburgh but there is no doubt that Alex, who is a real grafter, and Ruairidh Bonner have been hugely influential for us in the way they are able to exert control from half-back.”

The likely involvement of pros threatens to tip the balance in Accies’ favour although Boroughmuir backs coach Phil Smith is confidence his young side will cope with whatever is thrown at them.

“We were absolutely delighted to get a win over Stirling County last week having fielded so many young players due to injuries affecting the likes of Malcolm Clapperton, Neil Rodger, Ally Davidson and Andy Rose,” says Smith:

He added: “In taking his chance with both hands 17-year-old flanker Alex Henderson made 12 tackles and missed none.

“Harry Leonard [from Edinburgh Rugby’s Academy set-up] missed last weekend due to his sister’s wedding and he is a quality young stand off who will threaten from anywhere on the pitch.

“So, having assessed Accies as a similar team to ourselves who like to move the ball around quickly, we aim to take the same approach and try to out-pace them.”

Adding to the stakes former Scotland prop Norrie Rowan, who played for both teams, is offering a barrel of beer to the winners.

At Malleny Park Currie will be seeking a first win of the campaign against Ayr, with Dougie Fife and Mike Entwhistle back in the starting line up and Colin Phillips – ex-Stewart’s/Melville and Scotland under-20 – making his bow in the front row where club internationalist Ally Hamilton has a knee problem.

Heriot’s head for Gala while Division Two pair Watsonians and Stewart’s-Melville visit West and Biggar respectively.

It promises to be a red- letter day for Watsonian diehard Kian Coertze as the South African prop makes his 200th club appearance. Team manager Gary Scott paid tribute, saying: “It is a monumental effort by Kian to reach this mark. He’s the type who does his talking on the pitch and this is some statement of commitment to Watsonians.”

Stewart’s/Melville can make it four straight wins in a storming start while Division Three Lasswade head for GHA on the back of a clean sweep for all three of their teams last weekend.