The clearout at Edinburgh Rugby continued today with second row Sean Cox heading to London Irish.
Just as the Englishman, who joined from Sale Sharks three years ago, was about to qualify for Scotland on residency, a parting of the ways became more or less inevitable when he dropped out of the matchday squad last December.
Cox’s disappearance from squads will baffle many as it was only a couple of months before, in October, that he was widely hailed as the line-out architect of a stunning Heineken Cup win over Munster at Murrayfield.
The player’s performance against Munster prompted interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson to tell the Evening News that, if Cox continued to progress, an international squad call-up could be offered.
However, Cox made only two more starts for Edinburgh and his latest – and 60th – appearance came off the bench against Leinster in December.
In joining London Irish – an announcement from Edinburgh is expected soon – Cox will link up with current team-mate Geoff Cross, who has agreed a deal for next season.
Cox’s departure will also be a blow to Currie whom he has been helping coach in the Premiership this season.
Also leaving Edinburgh is Cox’s fellow second row Izak van der Westhuizen, who is returning to South Africa and that could mean promotion from the elite development squad for Ben Toolis.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons today effectively ended the Edinburgh career of internationalist Nikki Walker when naming a two-change team for tomorrow’s visit to Newport Gwent Dragons in the RaboDirect PRO 12.
One of those changes sees Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, normally a scrum half, included in Walker’s Test position of winger while the other is the reinstatement to the back row, after injury, of Kiwi Mike Coman who resumes the captaincy.
Carl Bezuidenhout and Roddy Grant drop out.
Asked specifically about the future of 32-year-old Walker who has made only two appearances since Solomons arrived and is out of contract at the end of this season, the coach said: “Nikki Walker got an opportunity early in the season and things didn’t run for him. In terms of selections ... he hasn’t been making the team.”
In fact, Walker’s two appearances were consecutive. In the first he shared in a home win over tomorrow’s opponents then was part of the side which suffered Edinburgh’s biggest defeat of the campaign so far, by 10-44 at Ospreys.
Explaining Hidalgo-Clyne’s inclusion at wing Solomons expressed confidence in the 20-year-old’s versatility having played age-group rugby at full back, a role considered inter-changeable with winger by the South African.
Edinburgh team: Cuthbert, Hidalgo-Clyne, Scott, Strauss, Brown, Leonard, Hart, Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, Van der Westhuizen, Coman (captain), Denton, Du Preez. Subs: Hilterbrand, Blaauw, Berghan, Atkins, Grant, Kennedy, Bezuidenhout, Beard.