Teenage prop forward Duncan Morrison faces potentially the toughest examination of his fledgling rugby career for Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place tomorrow by going directly up against Scotland World Cup squad front rower Moray Low in the Premiership.
Low has been farmed out by Glasgow Warriors to Aberdeen because they are keen to get him some game time after he failed to start in New Zealand. He hasn’t played since gaining his 15th cap against Italy at Murrayfield in August.
Aberdeen have, naturally, seized the allocation permitted under an arrangement with the SRU which owns the pro teams and have jurisdiction over the club game, too.
Dons coach Alex Duncan has referred to the match as an “eight pointer” with both teams scrapping to get into the all-important top eight when the league splits in four matches. Such qualification guarantees a place in the elite division next season where most of the revenue and profile will exist.
And the presence of any internationalist on the field – tight head forward Low will start on the bench – has got to be welcomed as a means of marketing club rugby which hasn’t had its problems to seek recently.
But that does not detract from young loose head Morrison, who turns 20 on Monday, having to, at some stage, draw on experience which so far includes a spell in the London Wasps academy before heading north to Accies via Stirling, having represented Scotland at under-17 and under-18 levels.
Where he may well be tested in particular is in the physical stakes as his 6ft and 16st 8lb frame is confronted by the 6ft 2in and 19st 6lb Low fresh from weeks of intensive training for the global tournament and maybe, just maybe, full of pent-up frustration.
Accies coach Simon Cross sounded far from enthralled by the prospect of his scrum being confronted by Low at such a crucial time when, theoretically, they could drop ten points behind the eighth-placed team in the league tomorrow, but the Scotland under-20 coach and former Edinburgh captain was stoic when he told the Evening News: “Moray’s presence makes it more of a challenge and a bit more difficult for us. But there is nothing we can do about it and as long as we perform the way we can then we should be all right.”
Cross’s subsequent team announcement made no mention of Low and he referred to the match, saying: “I am looking to putting out the most physical side we have.”
Dan Teague moves into second row to accommodate Callum Reid at blindside flanker and Australian winger Jake Knight, who missed last week’s defeat at Stirling County which followed a stunning debut in which he scored tries with his first two touches of the ball and went on to complete a hat-trick against Hawick, has fought off a leg strain.
Aberdeen coach Duncan has summed up the implications of the decision by Glasgow to release a player with 15 Test caps, 78 league appearances and 25 outings at European level back to them while the professional teams are out of action for a fortnight, saying: “The decision to send Moray (from Glasgow) has come at the ideal time for us as our tight head Richard Allan is suffering with a slight neck strain. Glasgow want Moray to get some game time, the player wants time on the pitch and we are getting an international forward. The situation benefits all parties, apart from probably Edinburgh Accies who he will be facing. We are delighted. Moray is vastly experienced and will be a tremendous addition to our team.”
Meanwhile, time is running out for a tenth-placed Heriot’s to make the top eight. However, with opponents Hawks at Anniesland even worse off an opportunity exists for Heriot’s who have Robin Cessford replacing the injured Struan Dewar at blindside flanker while Jordy Kohn comes back in at centre.
In Division Two, the winning run of Stewart’s Melville faces its sternest test yet, away to second place Jed-Forest while Watsonian hopes of going five-in-a-row unbeaten go on the line at a Hillhead-Jordanhill.
Lasswade’s Division Three title hopes suffered a jolt when they lost at Howe of Fife last week but the Midlothian outfit have an opportunity to bounce back at home to unbeaten Kirkcaldy when a bonus-point victory could see them leapfrog the Fifers.