Scott returns for Edinburgh’s clash with Perpignan

Edinburgh centre Matt Scott. Pic Ian Rutherford
Edinburgh centre Matt Scott. Pic Ian Rutherford
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Scotland rugby star Matt Scott is poised to return tomorrow from off the bench when Edinburgh entertain Perpignan in the Heineken European Cup.

The 16-times capped centre has been out since injuring a hand in the opening Autumn Test against Japan in November.

Also on the bench awaiting an Edinburgh debut is South African utility back Carl Bezuidenhout but overall there is just one change to the team chosen for the postponed league visit to Glasgow; Izak van der Westhuizen has recovered from a groin problem to replace second row Ollie Atkins.

Bezuidenhout and Van der Westhuizen bring the number of South Africans in the match day squad to five but coach Alan Solomons, himself from the ‘dark continent’, defended the import policy insisting that local talent would be promoted eventually but only in the right environment.

He saiad: “I started a month ago having regular meetings with Stevie Scott (forwards coach) and Bryan Easson (academy manager) and formulated a strategy.

“It is going to take time but it is very important we do not allow any good young player from Edinburgh to slip through the net.

“When they do come through I would like them to play in a side that has experience and is performing so that their development can be enhanced.

“Some, like Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, will come through quicker than others but George Turner is a hooker that has some ability and Alex Allan, too. Hamish Watson has also played for us.”

Eyebrows will be raised by the continuing absence of Ross Rennie but the coach said: “Ross has returned from being out for almost a year. We were able to give him a run of games but Roddy (Grant) has been man of the match in two of the last three games.

“There is a lot of competition but Ross is an integral member of the squad.”

On the return of Scott, he said: “It is fantastic to see Matt back. he has had a tough season but is an absolute quality player. He has developed into a really good international and, although all our players have stepped into the breach and the midfield has done well, we have certainly missed Matt.

“If we want to keep alive our hopes in Europe we have to get a win against Perpignan. It is great to be going in knowing we still have a chance to qualify.”

Edinburgh: Cuthbert, Fife, De Luca, Atiga, Brown, Tonks, Laidlaw, captain, Dickinson, Ford, Nel. Gilchrist, van der Westhuizen, Du Preez, Denton, Grant. Subs: Lutui, Blaauw, Cross, Atkins, Leonardi, Hart, Bezuidenhout, Scott.

Perpignan: Hook, Haughton, Mafi, Piukala, Mjekevu, Allan, Duvenage, Taumalolo, Guirado, captain, Paulica, Vahaamahina, Charteris, Leo, Chateau, Perez. Subs: Delonica, Custoja, Pulu, Narraway, Ecochard, Marty, Michel, Vilaceca.