Edinburgh Rugby could be about to spring a major surprise by recalling flanker Cornell du Preez for the European Challenge Cup quarter-final with London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, Reading, on April 5.
When the South African-born Scottish-project signing broke an ankle against Newport Gwent Dragons at BT Murrayfield last October it was feared his season could be over.
However, Du Preez who turned 24 last Monday and who has gathered a host of man-of-the-match awards from his 29 Edinburgh appearances, is one of two players re-registered today for European competition by head coach Alan Solomons.
The other newcomer is Sale Sharks loanee scrum-half Nathan Fowles who has come off the bench in the last two Guinness Pro 12 games after arriving at a time when Sean Kennedy is a long term casualty.
The first sign that Du Preez could be on course for a quicker-than-expected return came when he tweeted on February 27.
If progress is swift than it is even possible that, a month on, Du Preez could figure in the Edinburgh squad that travels to Scarlets on Saturday keen to improve prospects of a top-six finish which would earn re-instatement to the premier Champions Cup next season.
His absence came at time when Edinburgh’s back-row resources were so badly stretched at one stage that the progress in converting Stuart McInally from back row to hooker had to be interrupted so as to provide emergency cover.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s game at Llanelli Scarlets on Saturday is vital. The Capital team lie eighth, four points behind Connacht in sixth.
Scarlets are a point better off than Edinburgh and have already pledged to restore a string of Welsh caps likely to be in better fettle than Scots coming off the back of a confidence-sapping Six Nations campaign.
Ken Owens (captain), Scott Williams, Jake Ball, Liam Williams, Rob Evans, Rhys Priestland and Gareth Davies are all set to return to action against Edinburgh with coach Wayne Pivac remarking: “The boys are full of smiles after the weekend and those that got to take part in it (Wales’ rout of Italy) thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Hooker Emyr Phillips could also return for Scarlets this weekend after three months out with a shoulder problem tighthead prop Samson Lee is a long-term casualty to injury.