Original ‘Jockbok” John Allan today insisted Scottish Rugby may have put one over on South African counterparts by snapping up Free State Cheetahs prop forward WP Nel for the Edinburgh team they own and run – as revealed by the Evening News on January 26.
Former Edinburgh Accies hooker Allan was born in Glasgow and brought up in South Africa where he now lives. That enabled him to represent both Scotland and the Springboks in the 1990s and he continues to be heavily involved in rugby operating a scheme to give opportunities to players from non-rugby schools.
Allan says: “It is quite a commitment for Nel to be moving to Scotland because there has been talk of him playing for South Africa at some stage. Nel is a big, strong lad much more renowned for scrummaging than running with the ball.
“Adjusting to conditions in Edinburgh will be his challenge because the weather is warmer in Bloemfontain with much less rain.
“There is no doubt that in the tight phases he will help Edinburgh because almost certainly he’d have been in the South African pecking order especially with a new coach.
“The difference in the playing environments is not to be underestimated but scrummaging will certainly be strengthened with Nel in the squad.”
Among those who will be expected to learn from Nel, who could qualify to represent Scotland on residential grounds before the 2015 World Cup, is Lewis Niven.
Niven recently signed a contract extension with his hometown outfit.
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley said of a player who has represented the Barbarians in a win over New Zealand: “We’re delighted to have signed WP Nel for the next three seasons; a player of the calibre, experience and expertise that we seek to attract and to serve our ambitions to put Edinburgh Rugby among the top clubs in Europe.
“He has a lot of experience for a 25-year-old prop and will bring a huge amount to our performance on the pitch and to the development of the talented young props we have at the club.”