Edinburgh Rugby to rotate squad for Ospreys clash

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne will look to raise the tempo of Edinburgh's play tomorrow. Picture: SNS

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne will look to raise the tempo of Edinburgh's play tomorrow. Picture: SNS

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EDINBURGH coach Alan Solomons has insisted that the seven changes he has made to his starting XV for tomorrow’s trip to take on the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium is predominantly motivated by a desire to rotate the squad in order to keep his players fresh through the course of the whole season. But there is almost certainly more to it than that.

The South African coach admits that he was left frustrated by the way his team failed to replicate the intensity they showed away to Munster on the opening weekend of the season when they played their second match of the campaign against Connacht last Friday night. His team are not used to backing up big performances week after week, and the lesson from the Connacht debacle is that they are still not good enough to win games unless they are firing on all cylinders.

It was blindingly clear after Friday’s match that Solomons needed to shake things up by bringing in a few new faces, and one of the most encouraging things about the capital outfit this season is that they now have a number of different options available in most positions across the park capable of changing the game.

South African signing Anton Bresler should improve the physicality of the pack tomorrow afternoon, while the selection of club captain Mike Coman in the starting back-row for the first time this season is designed to bring some much-needed leadership into the team.

Meanwhile, behind the scrum, the return from injury of Tim Visser on the left wing will provide an important cutting edge. But perhaps the most significant selection call Solomons has made is at scrum-half, where he has asked Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to use his speed and eye for a gap, to raise the tempo early on.

“Hopefully, it will be a dry pitch so I can use my pace as much as I can. A few breaks may occur which may be good,” said the 21-year-old, who is perhaps not as precocious a talker as he is a rugby player.

“We did not have a good game last week so we have to do something different this time and back up what we did in the Munster game to win this match,” he added.

“When it is such a flat game, as a scrum-half you have to try and speed things up. It is hard in that situation when you are maybe winning by a point and you don’t want to make mistakes.”

Hidalgo-Clyne’s promotion to the starting team comes at the expense of Sean Kennedy, who drops out of the squad, with Grayson Hart providing cover from the bench. It may seem like Kennedy has been harshly treated, but Solomons has made it clear that he has high hopes for all three of these scrum-halves and Hidalgo Clyne is in no doubt that his rival might be down at the moment but he most certainly is not out.

“At the moment it is rotation, which is fair. We push each other every week and try and get that number one spot, which is good competition,” he said.

“It’s the same at stand-off: they will probably start rotating there now that Greig Tonks is fit again. You want to make sure you have the depth in the squad.”

What Hidalgo-Clyne has that the other two don’t is genuine pace. He is perhaps not as accomplished a distributor of the ball at the moment, but it is his ability to shoot through gaps before the opposition have had any time to react which may see him emerge as head boy of this triumvirate.

He is also two years younger than Kennedy and five years younger than Hart, so time is on his side – but that doesn’t mean he feels that he can take his time in developing into the playmaker he wants to be.

“Last season when we were down on numbers, I helped them out on the wing. This season I want to master playing scrum half,” he said.

“What I really want to be doing is learning as much as I can at scrum-half.”

Ospreys

15 D Evans

14 J Hassler

13 J Spratt

12 J Matavesi

11 H Dirksen

10 D Biggar

9 R Webb

1 N Smith

2 S Baldwin

3 A Jarvis

4 A Wyn Jones (c)

5 R Bernardo

6 J King

7 J Tipuric

8 D Baker

Subs

16 S Parry

17 D Jones

18 D Arhip

19 T Ardron

20 M Allen

21 M Roberts

22 S Davies

23 T Grabham

Edinburgh

15 J Cuthbert

14 N McLennan

13 P Burleigh

12 A Strauss

11 T Visser

10 T Heathcote

9 S Hidalgo-Clyne

1 A Dickinson

2 J Hilterbrand

3 W P Nel

4 F McKenzie

5 A Bresler

6 M Coman (c)

7 H Watson

8 C Du Preez

Subs

16 N Cochrane

17 R Sutherland

18 J Andress

19 O Atkins

20 T Leonardi

21 G Hart

22 S Beard

23 G Tonks

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