YOUNG Edinburgh centre Chris Dean is relishing his extended run in the team but insists he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
The 21-year-old from North Berwick will make his seventh appearance against Ulster in Belfast tonight and said: “I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ve had good game time this season and I just want to keep building upon it. In my head I want to go out and perform and keep the shirt.”
Dean played all his age-grade rugby at back-row before a couple of seasons with the sevens squad brought out a skill set which convinced coaches and himself that a future in the backs lay ahead.
“Richie Vernon played 20-odd games for Scotland in the back row and is now there at centre,” continued Dean “It gives confidence to see that someone has done it. I’m just taking it in my stride. There are skill changes but I feel I have moulded into it quite well. The sevens helped with that.”
Coach Alan Solomons has made four changes to the side which secured a first bonus-point win of the season against Dragons at BT Murrayfield last Friday.
Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne withdrew yesterday morning with a hand injury and is replaced by Sean Kennedy.
Greig Tonks, who tweaked his hamstring in the first half last week, is replaced at full-back by Jack Cuthbert with Dougie Fife returning from injury to pull on the No.14 jersey in place of Tom Brown, who is out with a shoulder knock.
Lock Anton Bresler returns to partner Alex Toolis, with Fraser McKenzie sidelined with a neck injury. Mike Coman again leads the team at blindside with John Hardie at openside and No.8 Cornell Du Preez.
“I know Ulster quite well having coached there and it’s a tough place to go. We’ll need to be at our best,” said the coach.
Dean added: “I can’t wait. We’ve played Ulster twice already [in pre-season and the 16-10 Pro12 win at BT Murrayfield] so on that front I know what to expect in terms of the game but the Kingspan is renowned as one of the great club grounds with its atmosphere so it’s pretty exciting.”