Edinburgh Rugby will provide a glimpse of the future tonight as well as trying to bring down table-topping Ospreys at home for the third-successive season in the Guinness Pro 12.
Currently lying seventh in the table, Edinburgh give a debut to winger Damien Hoyland who has travelled the world for an opportunity which comes at Myreside with BT Murrayfield out of commission due to Sunday’s international.
Plucked from the sevens squad in the wake of reaching the semi-finals of the New Zealand grand prix tournament, the Boroughmuir reared prospect, said: “I flew back from Wellington a couple of days ago knowing there were some injuries and I had a good chance of playing. It took 41 hours to get back and the main problem was to keep up with jet lag protocols but I can’t wait to get out on the pitch.”
To reach this level Hoyland, 21, has had to overcome obstacles none bigger than the fact his old school, James Gillespie’s High, did not have a rugby team. “I was fortunate that there was a link with Boroughmuir and after moving into the senior club and debuting against Lasswade I played until relegation meant I was advised to move to Melrose in order to keep turning out in the Premiership.
“At Boroughmuir coaches Fergus Pringle and David Officer were a big help as were John Dalziel and Rob Christie at Melrose while Sean Lineen gave me so many good pointers with Scotland Under-20s.
“I’ve had a good look at some clips of Ospreys but the main thing will be to focus on my own game, try to get the ball in my hands and take every chance that comes along.
“Playing for Scotland sevens has been massively helpful in terms of improving my passing and tackling while the atmosphere in some of the stadiums has been good preparation for playing professionally.”
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons sees promotion for Hoyland as further evidence of a policy of bringing through local talent alongside experienced overseas players.
“It is part of my vision for the club to see another young boy come through,” said Solomons who has also handed league debuts this term to young Scots Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury. Solomons revealed he had to move quickly when noting injuries in the Scotland-France game were likely to have a knock-on effect.
“We had spoken beforehand (with the Scottish management) so I decided to activate things on Saturday night. Damien got back on Wednesday.
“It is easier to slot a winger in, more difficult if a guy pitches up on a Wednesday and has to play fly half or scrum half. Damien’s obviously mustard keen and it is just great to see him get an opportunity. Playing sevens has done him the world of good.”
Edinburgh captain Mike Coman added: “Although I have yet to play with him I’ve noticed Damien at training. He is powerful and strong and certainly looks as if he has some great ability. I’m quite excited to see how he goes. Hopefully us forwards can get him good quick ball.
“I’ve also had a quick yarn with Damien about getting over a long haul journey I’ve done a few times. I’m sure adrenalin will get him through.”
While the rugby focus this week has been on how Scotland it is easy to forget that Edinburgh suffered a record 13-62 defeat at Ospreys last September. This time round both teams are affected by representative calls but Edinburgh still have 13 of that match-day squad, including three starters, on duty. As well as Damien Hoyland and Hugh Blake, a debut beckons for 20-year-old Alex Glashan who covers scrum half having spent the season so far with Edinburgh Accies.