Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has no qualms about fielding Matt Scott in the less familiar outside centre berth on his injury comeback in tonight’s crunch clash with Munster in Cork.
The match is shaping up to be absolutely crucial in the race for the Guinness Pro12 top half and Champions Cup qualification, with both sides locked together on points in sixth and seventh place – Edinburgh are ahead on points difference. The 34-times capped Scott returns from the elbow injury he picked up against Connacht at the start of the match and, although he is usually deployed at inside centre, Solomons believes he can be equally effective in the No 13 jersey. With the seasons of Phil Burleigh and Mike Allen both ended by surgery to ankle and shoulder respectively, the inclusion of Andries Strauss means Scott moves to the outside channel and a head-to-head battle with All Black cap Francis Saili.
“Matt has usually played inside centre but I think he is pretty comfortable there [at 13],” said Solomons. “He’s got the pace and experience to handle it. Andries is an out-and-out inside centre.”
The coach accepted that it was pretty much win or bust in the Republic’s second city tonight.
“It is. But it’s been going like that for a while,” said Solomons. “It’s a massive game. Munster will come out all guns blazing. They’re a very proud province. They’ll be very determined and physical.”
Sean Kennedy returns to the starting scrum-half slot, with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne dropping back on to the bench and Solomons explained: “There is strong competition there and I think Sean has played pretty well over the last period and he gets the nod for this game.”
On-loan Welshman Jason Tovey continues at stand-off and Solomons said the decision on whether to extend his stay beyond the end of the season was being discussed but still to be resolved.
“I’ve been very happy with Jason, he’s fitted in beautifully,” said the South African. “Obviously he forms part of what we want to do going forward. It’s all under discussion at the moment and I’d rather leave it there. We have a good contracting process with the SRU.
“All I’ll say about Jason is I’ve been very happy with him. He’s a very good player, he’s fitted in well and he’s happy.”
The Edinburgh pack is unchanged, with lock Anton Bresler, who is on track to be eligible for Scotland next year, making his 50th appearance for the club.
The Namibian-born 28-year-old, who starts for a 23rd time this season, said: “It’s a huge honour to be named in this side to earn my 50th cap for Edinburgh.
“Since the day I arrived, the club have really welcomed me and I love the family environment we’ve created. I’m really enjoying my time here.
“We have a really challenging game tomorrow. We know how tough the Irish provinces are at home – we were reminded of that last time out against Leinster – but we’ll be going all out to ensure we stay in the top six going into our last game [at home to Cardiff Blues next Saturday].”
Munster coach Anthony Foley makes five changes for the game, four in the pack, with Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Dave Foley and Dave O’Callaghan all returning to the starting XV.
Kilcoyne and Scannell join Stephen Archer in the front row, Foley overcomes an ankle injury to partner Billy Holland in the second row, while back row O’Callaghan is back from a knee problem to start at six in a move that sees captain CJ Stander revert to No 8, with Tommy O’Donnell at seven. In the back three, Andrew Conway joins Keith Earls and full-back Simon Zebo.