Edinburgh fans are set to get a first sighting of key summer signing Robbie Fruean after head coach Richard Cockerill revealed he should be in the matchday squad for Friday’s Guinness Pro14 visit of the Dragons at Myreside.
New Zealand-born Fruean signed from Bath in June but has been recovering from a knee injury and didn’t feature in the pre-season games or last Friday’s 20-10 victory at Cardiff in the opening round of the championship.
The 29-year-old, who hopes to represent Samoa at the 2019 World Cup, came to the Scottish capital, via England’s west country, with an impressive Super Rugby pedigree, particularly at Crusaders, where he formed a fruitful midfield partnership with All Blacks legend Sonny Bill Williams.
“Robbie trained this morning and is due to train again this afternoon. I expect him to be in the 23,” said Cockerill.
Dougie Fife, who was released to Scotland Sevens at the end of the 2015-16 season made a return to the Edinburgh starting line-up for the win in Cardiff but suffered an ankle injury and is unlikely to feature this week.
Cockerill was satisfied with the start to the season and called on his troops to back it up in front of a home crowd this weekend.
“You could see the doubts of last season probably coming in when it was 10-10, and you are probably thinking this is really a pivotal moment for us,” said the coach of the match at the Arms Park. “We dug ourselves back into the game and got control and were unlucky not to score more tries.
“Defensively and mentally there was fantastic physicality. That should be the bare minimum, commitment should not be commended. It should be expected really. I am very happy with that.”
Cockerill shed light yesterday on his decision to bring the 27-year-old, six-times capped Fife back into the fold, and a starting spot, after he was released to the Sevens programme last season.
“Dougie is an experienced international 15s player and I think he is a very good player. It adds depth to the squad and they are Scottish-qualified guys and all very desperate to play for Scotland and Edinburgh,” said the 46-year-old Englishman. “We have three sevens guys in the programme at the moment. James Johnstone and Jamie Farndale too, which adds a bit of depth to the squad. I would like to have them but that’s a wider discussion.
“If I can have them – and those discussions are always up for debate – I would like them in the squad. John Dalziel is running the Sevens programme and it would be pretty tough on him.
“We’ve got to work through that. It’s not just about me pulling rank. It’s about making sure the whole thing works.
“I believe that the Sevens programme is to produce players for the 15s and national side, but we have to make that work within the whole programme. I will be pushing hard to try and keep those lads if I can.”
Fife turned pro with Edinburgh six years ago and scored a try for Scotland in Paris during the 2015 Six Nations but his momentum stalled and he was deemed surplus to requirements at the pro team at the end of the 2015-16 season and shunted to the abbreviated game.
Cockerill made clear he would like to make use of those players available to him while he can. All three have been with us full-time for the whole pre-season. They are already training for the sevens but their competitions don’t start until December I think. I’m not overly clued up on sevens,” said former hooker Cockerill with smile. “I’d like to keep them until then if I can. If those guys start commanding places in or around the 23 then you’d like to give them best shot at playing 15s.”