Rugby: Young Hunter makes his mark in Edinburgh victory

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Just three matches into his professional career, Gregor Hunter is already in the spotlight as the first Edinburgh Rugby player to notch a winning try this season.

The 19-year-old got off the mark in stunning style by showing good composure and footballing skills as Connacht’s unbeaten record in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 League was undone with a 19-14 win at Murrayfield.

For Hunter the touchdown was reward not only for sharp reactions but also fortitude in battling through injury problems which restricted him to just 11 games last season for Heriot’s, the club he joined from his native Gala in order to gain Premiership Division One experience.

Although now re-assigned to Gala, who are back in the top flight, Hunter may not be wearing the maroon jersey too often if he continues to show the form that became apparent soon after emerging from the bench in 52 minutes with Edinburgh clinging to a narrow lead.

Immediately, Greig Laidlaw, who had been running the line adequately from stand off, reverted to his more familiar role of scrum half to accomodate Hunter and the try very much had “made in the Borders” stamped all over it.

However, Gregor, son of former Gala prop forward, Hamish Hunter, was only interested in looking to help Edinburgh kick-start their season and maintain his involvement going into Saturday’s visit to Aironi in Italy.

“The plan was to play a bit more in Connacht’s territory in a match that was always going to be hard fought.

“Our first win was always going to be the tough one to get but now we are up and running hopefully we kick on from here,” said Hunter who, in his moment of glory, remembered that opportunity had come at the expense of more experienced rivals currently sidelined.

“It has worked in my favour to get exposure in the opening three matches though unfortunate for some of the boys who are currently injured,” he said.

Among those waiting in the wings are international No. 10 Phil Godman who is being nursed back from long term knee ligament damage – and Hunter knows how his colleague feels.

“Last year I was out a lot injured and this start has made it all worthwhile for me. So far against Cardiff and Connacht it has been a learning curve. Starting away to Ospreys was a huge learning curve.”

Edinburgh Rugby’s website certainly offered pointers pre-season on a lad who turns 20 at the end of this month and who has represented Scotland from under-17 through to under-19 age-group, stating: “His bid to challenge for a first-team place with Edinburgh has not been helped by injury, but Hunter’s potential has long been obvious.”

For Denton, there is now a need to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s visit to Aironi having picked up a foot injury which led to his deputy, Stuart McInally, being withdrawn from Edinburgh Accies’ bench as a precaution 24 hours after the Rabo Direct Pro 12 clash.