Having Scotland cap John Hardie back in the side for tonight’s crucial Guinness PRO12 match with Munster is a “massive boost”, according to Edinburgh Rugby’s acting head coach Duncan Hodge.
The back-row man is making his return from injury in the rearranged clash at Myreside and he will be aiming to help Edinburgh get their stuttering league campaign back on course.
When Hardie arrived on these shores from New Zealand in 2015 he burst on to the scene and could seemingly not put a foot wrong.
Throughout the World Cup towards the end of that year and then through the first half of 2016 he was one of the first names on the teamsheet for the national team.
However, the emergence of club team-mate Hamish Watson in the same position, followed by niggling injuries before Hardie sustained an ankle problem against Australia in November, has made it a frustrating few months for the 28-year-old.
As Hardie prepares to play for the first time in two-and-a-half months, Hodge said: “It has been a tough season for John, both in terms of the injuries and also the fact that him and Hamish Watson were battling it out for the starting No.7 jersey with Edinburgh and Scotland.
“The ankle injury came at a bad time because he missed some crucial Scotland matches and some big ones for us, but it is great that he is now back in the mix.
“We all know what can happen during a Six Nations campaign when it comes to injury and form and John will want to put himself in with a chance of playing for Scotland in the coming weeks as will the guys who were with the national squad but have come back to us for this match.
“John is just concentrating on this match and then we will see what happens.”
As well as Hardie, Ben Toolis, Cornell Du Preez, Damien Hoyland and Stuart McInally have returned from the Scotland camp to bolster Edinburgh’s ranks for this one.
And in the front-row it will be a big night for props Jack Cosgrove, 22, and Murray McCallum, 20.
“With Allan Dell and Simon Berghan in the Scotland squad to take on Ireland we have selected Jack and Murray to start and it is great for them,” Hodge said.
“The two of them have come along nicely this season and they will be eager to take their chances when they come. As a prop you learn at this level with more game time and it is good to expose these boys to some tough matches.”
On the bench prop cover is provided by Derrick Appiah, who arrived on loan from Worcester Warriors this week, and Nick Beavon.
The latter joined the club from Melrose last summer but has found top team opportunities hard to come by.
Edinburgh are tenth in the PRO12 going into this game while Munster are second, but Hodge is hopeful that a lively home crowd can help his side kick-start their league campaign.