Richard Cockerill talks up Edinburgh’s young guns ahead of final game of a fairly miserable season
Richard Cockerill has banged the drum for Edinburgh’s young guns as he prepares to round off a fairly miserable season with a match against Scarlets in Wales on Sunday.
The coach will use it as an opportunity to blood a couple of players, with Scotland sevens internationalist Kyle Rowe selected at full-back for his first appearance for the club and Heriot’s centre Cammy Hutchison – who made a try-scoring debut from the bench against Ulster last week – promoted to a starting berth.
Blair Kinghorn continues at stand-off but Ben Toolis drops out after sustaining a knee injury, tough luck on the lock who made his comeback last weekend after five months out with a toe problem.
The Rainbow Cup match is a dead rubber but Cockerill does not expect commitment levels to dip. The club announced the departure of ten players on Friday, including winger Eroni Sau and Scotland international prop Murray McCallum, opening the door for more youngsters to step forward next season.
“We’ve got a good crop of lads that are getting opportunities, and they’ve earned their opportunities,” said Cockerill.
The coach points to the inclusion of Jack Blain, Jamie Hodgson and Charlie Shiel in the recent Scotland squad and Edinburgh are also well represented in the under-20 group who will compete in the junior Six Nations.
“These young lads that have worked hard deserve their opportunity because there is scope for them to go on and be really good professional players for us but also have an opportunity to play for their country.
“So we’ve got a good crop, but they’ve got to keep working hard. One of the problems with having a small group of players is that a young player of 17, 18 or 19 shows a bit of promise over a couple of games and suddenly he’s shot into stardom. They’ve got to keep working hard and keep improving their game and not just be good enough.
“I’m really happy with the group we’ve got. You can always have more but there’s guys like Dan Gamble who will come back in pre-season, while Patrick Harrison is an 18-year-old who’s been really good, Ben Muncaster’s been fantastic when he has the opportunity, Conor Boyle would have had more opportunity before now but circumstances went against that.
“Guys like Harry Paterson have been really good, while Nathan Sweeney is unfortunately injured but is a good young player.
“And then there’s Jack Blain who we don’t classify as young because he’s in his second season. Then there’s Charlie Shiel and Marshall Sykes – who was an academy player at Glasgow last season and now has nearly a double figures of starts for us – while Jamie Hodgson was pretty much abandoned by the academy set-up until he came to us as an extra body and three years later he’s now picked for the national squad.”
Edinburgh (v Scarlets, Sunday, 1pm, Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli. Live on Premier Sports 1)
Kyle Rowe; Jack Blain, James Johnstone, Cammy Hutchison, Eroni Sau; Blair Kinghorn, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Angus Williams, Marshall Sykes, Jamie Hodgson, Jamie Ritchie,, Connor Boyle, Mesu Kunavula.
Subs: David Cherry, Boan Venter, Simon Berghan, Ally Miller, Luke Crosbie, Charlie Shiel, Nathan Chamberlain, George Taylor.