EDINBURGH coach Michael Bradley has left Chris Paterson out of the squad for today’s historic Heineken Cup quarter-final with Toulouse at Murrayfield.
In what appears to be a move towards the future and one that could mark the end of Paterson’s career, Tom Brown, who turned 22 the day after Paterson celebrated his 34th birthday last week, is preferred at full-back for the first-ever quarter-final in Scotland, with Jim Thompson handed the bench slot.
Paterson, Scotland’s most-capped internationalist, has battled against serious injury in recent seasons and retired from the international game in December, but he was desperate to finish the season, possibly his last as a professional, on a high with Edinburgh. But Bradley acknowledged that this is no time for sentiment.
“It was a close call between Tom and Mossy [Paterson] for sure,” he said. “There were no injury concerns. We think Tom has played well and warrants his selection.
“Chris was the first to congratulate him. He was instrumental in Tom improving this and last year. Tom has taken what is perceived to be Chris’s slot, but has had nothing but encouragement from Chris, which is a reflection on what type of man he is.
“Tom is very strong under the high ball, very physical, a strong carrier of the ball and has electric pace. He gives us a good option in terms of attacking.
“On the bench, Jim Thompson gives us the flexibility to cover full-back, wing and the centres.”
Toulouse have lost Vincent Clerc, Maxime Medard, Luke McAllister, the All Black, and Springbok Gurthro Steenkamp to injury, but still named a strong line-up with six players who featured in France’s win over Scotland at Murrayfield in February.
Edinburgh, backed by 35,000-plus supporters, will set a new UK record for a Heineken Cup quarter-final if there is a walk-up of more than 1700.