Coach Duncan Hodge makes changes as Edinburgh take on Zebre

Edinburgh Rugby coach Duncan Hodge says his side are 'hurting' ahead of their Guinness PRO12 match against Zebre. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU
Edinburgh Rugby coach Duncan Hodge says his side are 'hurting' ahead of their Guinness PRO12 match against Zebre. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU
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Scotland flanker Hamish Watson is out of Edinburgh’s clash with Zebre in Parma today with a rib injury but acting head coach Duncan Hodge insisted it was “not a serious one” and poses no threat to the forward’s Six Nations hopes.

Loosehead prop Alasdair Dickinson is more of a concern, with news still awaited on the extent of the lower leg injury he picked up in the 25-12 loss to Glasgow on Boxing Day, as Hodge makes six changes for the vital clash against the Guinness Pro12 basement boys.

Will Helu starts on the wing, while Junior Rasolea is named at inside centre and Sean Kennedy replaces Sam Hidalgo-Clyne at scrum-half.

Allan Dell replaces Dickinson in the loosehead berth, while Fraser McKenzie comes in to pack down at lock and Jamie Ritchie is in for Watson on the openside flank.

Hodge hinted that the post mortem into that 1872 Cup loss, in which Edinburgh did well in terms of possession and territory but still lost by three tries to none, had been frank as they look to stop the rot against a team who beat them at home earlier in the season.

“We are hurting,” said Hodge. “There’s certainly no taking all the positives from it and being over-confident. There’s none of that. I’d probably suggest we’re a bit the other way.

“No-one likes losing, certainly not at home, and we’ve got a big, tough challenge at the weekend. All we can do is front up and do our jobs and get on with it. Try and make amends.”

Even if they hadn’t suffered that shock 19-14 loss to the Italians at the end of October, Edinburgh would still have travelled for a match which kicks-off at noon local time [11amGMT] with wariness, having also lost to them in 
Parma last season.

“They’re in that league position, but they’re a good side,” insisted Hodge. “Playing away from home is tough; playing five days after Glasgow is tough.

“That’s just what we have to deal with and we have to get on and do our job and focus on winning and be positive. We’ve got to impose ourselves on the game as well.

“That’s a massive thing. If we get our job right, that’s the most important thing. That’s what we’re focusing on this week.”

Third bottom is certainly nowhere near where Edinburgh would want to be at this point in the season but Hodge insisted that there have been enough good signs in recent months to believe that a brighter new year can lie ahead.

“I certainly think we’ve been challenging teams more in attack,” he said. “We’ve got good players. Yes, in the backs particularly, they’re young and we’re trying to adapt to change there and it’s a coachable group.

“We still need to work a lot harder off the ball but that’s coming.

“There’s some things, like defence and set-piece, that have been bedrocks here. We just need to get them back to the level we were at.”