Duncan Hodge: Ospreys will bring out best in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby acting head coach Duncan Hodge insists that his men have consigned last week's defeat to the past and are confident of bouncing back with a win in tonight's Guinness PRO12 clash with Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
While admitting that too many aspects of the performance that led to a loss against Dragons fell short of expectations, which have risen following recent impressive successes over Harlequins and Ulster, Hodge knows he has the personnel to beat the Welsh outfit.
“It’s been such a short week. It’s limited as to what we can do. We recovered properly, trained on Wednesday and then travelled down,” he pointed out before highlighting the areas that have been the primary focus of attention. “The breakdown, our overall physicality in defence and in attack as well, plus we were on the wrong side of the penalty count and we made too many errors.
“There were good bits to last weekend as well. We talked about the errors we did make and in among them was some good stuff. And the game before that, there was some excellent stuff. There’s still lots of good stuff happening,” he said. “That brings us confidence although we are up against a good side. But, we are definitely confident about the game.
“It’s a tough place to come and play,” he added. “There’s no doubt we need to be on the top of our game and I think we will get a natural lift from that, so it’s probably just the game we need.
“We have to be more accurate and we have to adapt to the referee as well as the opposition.”
Hodge has made seven changes to his team for the second trip to the principality on successive weekends. And, he is adamant that the impending return to European Challenge Cup action has not influenced his selection.
“The European games are in the back of your mind and we have got some long-term injuries, but we have picked a team to go and win,” he added.
Hodge has recalled scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who will make his second league start of the season and will partner Duncan Weir at half back, with the international stand-off fully recovered from the broken jaw he suffered in the match at Munster in September.
“They have been training really well,” Hodge said of the duo. “They both bring something different to the half-backs we’ve had. Duncan is an authoritative figure and is good at driving things.”
Junior Rasolea dons the No. 12 shirt in place of Phil Burleigh, while Will Helu earns the nod ahead of Mike Allen on the wing. This will be Helu’s first league outing of the season, having been absent since sustaining a hamstring injury in the pre-season game against Sale Sharks. Up front, prop Allan Dell and lock Grant Gilchrist return from international duty, the latter taking on the captaincy.
Their resumption is timely given the non-availability through injury of the players they replace, Jack Cosgrove and Fraser McKenzie. Stuart McInally steps up at hooker in place of Neil Cochrane who drops to the bench.
Ospreys occupy third spot in the table, having won away to Glasgow Warriors last Friday. The Welsh outfit is unbeaten at home this season and the side is bolstered by the return of several key men from international duty. However, coach Steve Tandy is taking nothing for granted, saying: “Edinburgh were probably a little unfortunate last Sunday against the Dragons so I’m sure they’ll want to make up for it. We’ll have to be aware of that and deal with it.”
Hodge concurs with that view and he is happy that despite such a tight turnaround following last Sunday’s loss, he has been able to address the main shortcomings and ensure that his men are ready to make amends.