Edinburgh Rugby’s pursuit of two ‘kilted koalas’ was today given the thumbs up by a former Heriot’s and Boroughmuir back now coaching in Sydney.
Scrum half Grayson Hart and second row Ollie Atkins, from New South Wales Waratahs, are expected to be unveiled as signings by Edinburgh tomorrow – as revealed this week by the Evening News.
Both players are well known to Campbell Aitken whose career at stand off, full back or wing also spanned the Edinburgh District XV in the amateur days of the 1990s.
Eleven years ago Campbell moved to Australia and he now coaches Eastern Suburbs, one of Sydney’s top sides who play in the New South Wales Premiership. Says Campbell, who also assists with an Australian Rugby Union programme coaching top teenage prospects: “I know both Ollie and Grayson well having coached against them in Sydney.
“Grayson is a really good kid who has had limited game time with NSW due to Brendan McKibbin and Matt Lucas being ahead of him in the pecking order. Being from New Zealand he has a good rugby pedigree and will fit in well culturally. He is strong around the fringes and is quick off the mark. He should do well at Edinburgh.
“Ollie has been part of the dominant Sydney University pack which has won the NSW competition for the last few years. He is strong in the lineout and works hard around the park.
“He has also had limited chances with NSW due to the high calibre of locks already at the Waratahs. He will do a job for Edinburgh.”
The fact Grayson Hart grew up in Auckland where he represented the local province meant he was known to another Boroughmuir exile now living in New Zealand.
Referring to another kiwi who took advantage of ancestry with spectacular effect last season rising from the Glasgow ranks to a Lions tour via Scotland, Fred Lait refused to rule out the latest import from going on a similar journey: “Hart is not another (Sean) Maitland . . . but young yet” said prop forward Lait, adding: “He is a solid performer but has been starting behind McKibbin and Lucas.”