Coach backs Scotland call-up for Cornell du Preez

Edinburgh's South African back row forward Cornell du Preez has been called into the Scotland squad ahead of the Test against Argentina. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Edinburgh's South African back row forward Cornell du Preez has been called into the Scotland squad ahead of the Test against Argentina. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys has defended Scotland’s use of World Rugby’s controversial residency rule after another so-called ‘project player’ Cornell du Preez was called into the autumn Test squad.

The 25-year-old South Africa-born Edinburgh back-rower became eligible for Scotland in September after fulfilling the required three years of residency and has joined the group as injuries to Ryan Wilson and John Hardie sustained in the 23-22 loss to Australia continue to be assessed ahead of Saturday’s second match of the series against Argentina at BT Murrayfield.

Humphreys said that Du Preez was a valuable addition but stressed that 21-year-old homegrown back-row prospect Magnus Bradbury was also in the selection mix for Saturday.

“In regards to rules on residency, you need to talk to someone far more intelligent than me on that. It’s been around for a long, long time,” said the former Wales hooker.

“Look, he’s available to us. So we’re going to take advantage of the fact that he is.

“We have always been an admirer of Cornell. He can do stuff in games that not a lot of people can. So it will be great to bring him into the environment and go from there.”

Bradbury, who has been in storming form for Edinburgh this season, was not named in the official squad but was invited to train and two others in a similar situation, Ali Price and Rory Hughes, were unused replacements against Australia.

“Magnus is in the selection mix, yes,” said Humphreys. “He was brought into the squad to train with us and get up to speed. But he always had a possibility of being involved in this campaign.”

When fit, Du Preez has been a stand-out performer for Edinburgh since his arrival from Eastern Province Kings in 2013. A serious ankle break saw him miss much of the 2014-15 season and, after a clean-out operation on the same leg at the end of last season, he has been fighting to get back to his best form and fitness this term.

Du Preez is the latest foreign-born player to be called on by Scotland after qualifying through residency, following the likes of Tim Visser, WP Nel and Josh Strauss. World Rugby’s Argentine vice-president Agustin Pichot believes the situation is wrong and has called for at least an extension of the qualifying period to five years but Humphreys believes Scotland have every right to take advantage of the rule as it currently stands. “I played rugby with a guy called Hemi Taylor who was one of the first to qualify on residency grounds,” Humphreys said of the New Zealand-born flanker who won 24 caps for Wales in the mid-1990s.

“He was a fantastic asset for Welsh rugby.

“His life was in Wales. He still lives in Wales. He may have been born in a different country but his family is in Wales. That made him Welsh in our eyes. These boys who have qualified, like WP, their lives are here. Their kids only know here. So I think, when you get that investment from them, that’s good enough for me.”

As well as Wilson and Hardie, Richie Gray was going through Head Injury Assessment protocols and injuries to the likes of prop Alasdair Dickinson and back-rower Strauss were continuing to be looked at.

“We’re monitoring Dickinson. He’s hopefully back training now but it will be tough to get him up to speed in time,” reported Humphreys.

“They are all being assessed this [Monday] morning. With the effort the boys put in at the weekend they are pretty bashed up so it is about recovery and assessing today, and hopefully by [today] we will have a clearer idea of who is available and who is not.”

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