Former Lions captain Finlay Calder believes Heineken European Cup success for his Capital successors is the start of things to come – and he has revealed today the secret of an opening day win at English Premiership challengers, London Irish.
With French cracks Racing Metro now due at Murrayfield on Friday, the 54-year-old grand slam flanker has praised new Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley in sparingly using bench cover – a situation in stark contrast to what has been happening with under-achieving Scotland where replacements appear to have arrived on the pitch at pre-arranged times.
“Last weekend (when Glasgow also beat Bath) was not the greatest surprise. There is a maturity about players now (and) the great thing was the best players were left on the pitch. “When it came to the sticky last 20 minutes there was a believe there with Edinburgh.
“Sure, rugby makes a huge demand on bodies but leaving best players on the pitch made a huge difference.” Apart from when Lewis Niven came on for as brief stint as a blood replacement and Sean Cox took over from the injured Dave Denton Edinburgh called upon only two of their seven subs. with the introduction of Roddy Grant and Greig Laidlaw appearing tactical.
Calder, speaking at the launch of an eve-of Calcutta Cup charity dinner in Edinburgh on February 3 for Help the Heroes and the Bill McLaren Foundation, added:
“Ross Ford, Allan Jacobsen and Geoff Cross played for the whole 80 minutes and that made a huge difference. Roddy Grant played very well when he came on and Greig Laidlaw is the most talented all-rounder in Scottish rugby with his ability to play scrum half or stand off.”
Tipping current Edinburgh captain Laidlaw for a Six Nations debut in 2012 to add to a couple of caps already gained, Calder referred to the player’s uncle, Roy, an ex-Lion and grand slammer, saying:
“Greig has the Laidlaw look about him. He plays with his head up and when he comes on he adds value. Greig was desperately unlucky not to get to the World Cup but Scotland had three good scrum half’s there so fair enough. However, those three will recognise the main threat will come from Greig not from each other.
“Greig took charge when he came on. He has the Laidlaw look which says ‘I can do this’.”
n SEAN COX and London Irish’s Shontayne Hape are cited to appear before a disciplinary panel in Dublin on Thursday for striking an opponent and a dangerous tackle, respectively. If guilty penalties range from two weeks to a year.