Edinburgh pro Elliot Millar-Mills will bolster the Heriot’s effort against Ayr tomorrow for a BT Premiership home clash the Capital side desperately need to win to remain in the race for a play-off berth.
The loose-head prop replaces Martin Bouab in the first XV for a match Heriot’s coach Phil Smith views as a chance to bounce back from a drubbing by Watsonians last time out.
“Ayr have hit a bit of form which means all areas of our game will be tested,” said Smith. “I am hoping this will force the players into an 80-minute performance, as there is no doubt when they put it together they can compete with any team in the league.”
Having been knocked out of the BT Cup, securing a top-four finish is vital for Smith’s side who will otherwise have only four matches left before the end of the season.
A win for Heriot’s would also be helpful for Currie Chieftains, who are on the road to meet Stirling County. Chieftains now sit third in the table having been displaced by Ayr last Saturday. With no professionals available, Chieftains coach Ben Cairns names Charlie Shiel and Jamie Forbes – colleagues for the Club XV in their win over Scotland Under 20 in midweek – at half back and calls up Glenn Faulds, who was in the opposition line-up that night.
Watsonians are in good fettle at present, although they will be operating without the professionals who have played a big part in the recent run of wins, as they look to continue their bid for a play-off spot when Glasgow Hawks visit Myreside (kick-off 3pm).
A win for Boroughmuir at Hawick would lift them out of the bottom two at the expense of their hosts. Having been thwarted by the weather last week, Edinburgh flanker John Hardie returns from a three-month suspension to make his debut for Hawick, who have three professionals in their squad.
Muir coach Peter Wright has acknowledged the importance of the fixture by incorporating an additional training session this week. Among the changes he has made to the side selected for last Saturday’s postponed match is the inclusion of Matt Walker in the back row as a replacement for Dan Marek, who has been told to rest by the Scotland Under-20 management.