Edinburgh Rugby star Ross Ford is facing the prospect of late fitness checks before tonight’s Guinness Pro 12 visit to Ulster in a situation that could stretch resources to the limit.
It was captain Mike Coman who revealed concerns when invited to comment on being put in charge of a team that includes Scotland skippers Ford and Grant Gilchrist.
“Fordy’s ill at the moment. Hopefully he’ll be good to go,” said Coman.
The Ford fitness fear must be seen against a background of disruption in the hooker position, where Neil Cochrane picked up a knock at Ospreys and George Turner and Stuart McInally have yet to start this season for any team as they battle back from injuries.
That would leave just James Hilterbrand to go in against a team Edinburgh haven’t beaten at home since 2009 when only Ford, pictured right, Roddy Grant and Tim Visser, of tonight’s selection, turned out.
Certainly. Edinburgh need all the experience they can muster having posted only one win in their last nine league starts – an opening-day success at Munster.
The fact they were able to best those twice European champions in Limerick gives Coman plenty of hope but he knows what the team needs most is consistency.
“We are sick of riding a roller coaster,” said back rower Coman, who will be making his first start of this campaign after a couple of outings from the bench on his way back from knee surgery which was followed by a two-match absence due to a head knock sustained in training.
He added: “We started well and then went off the boil for a couple of weeks. That is something we need to address but last week (a 20-20 draw at home to Scarlets) contained some good signs.
“We showed a lot of fight despite losing an early try and the boys stayed calm.
“But we have to be in the right frame of mind every week. We can’t have that tendency to fall off.
“Going to Ulster we have to play for territory and the fact it could be wet is likely to make things fairly confrontational which would be a good way to get us into the game.
“We also have to expect them to be really disappointed about losing at Zebre last week and play accordingly.”
Belfast last year was where Grayson Hart introduced himself with a try from scrum-half as Edinburgh rallied towards the end of an eventual 41-17 defeat. This time round, the stage could be set for another “kilted kiwi”, Phil Burleigh, to make a major impact when he starts in the stand-off role.
Many will be surprised to see Greig Tonks shifted to full-back while Tom Heathcote overcomes minor knocks but Coman is in no doubt that Burleigh can deliver.
“I played age group with Phil at Canterbury and I’ve also played against him for Hawkes Bay when he was at Bay of Plenty,” he said.
“He’ll be good for us. He has a calm head and leads the team pretty well around the field.
“In our captain’s run he was on to what he was wanting us to do straight away in driving us around the field and it will be exciting to see what he can do.”
Burleigh’s impact from the bench last week included the try which got Edinburgh level with the aid of Heathcote’s conversion.
“Phil came at a hard angle for the type of try he scored a lot in New Zealand. Hopefully there’s more to come,” said Coman.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons says picking Tonks at full-back is to get him back playing regular rugby after a couple of injuries in the position he is most familiar with.