EDINBURGH’S promising young stand-off Gregor Hunter has been ruled out of the rest of the season after confirmation that he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury playing for Hawick two weeks ago.
The 21-year-old had been drafted to the Borders club this season and impressed in early outings in the RBS Premiership, but he went down in agony during Hawick’s defeat by Glasgow Hawks on 31 August. Speculation that he may have suffered a serious injury was confirmed by Edinburgh yesterday, who stated that recovery is expected to take around nine months following surgery.
Hunter emerged from the Gala club as a promising talent and has impressed three sets of Edinburgh coaches, from Rob Moffat to Alan Solomons, with his skills and work ethic. However, with opportunities so limited in Scotland’s two-team pro system, he has struggled for any regular game-time in the Edinburgh set-up and played most of his rugby in the past two years with a string of different club sides through the draft system.
He was hopeful of pushing his case this season to be part of the Edinburgh first-team squad on a regular basis and started promisingly with Hawick, but, much like Ruaridh Jackson experienced at Glasgow several years ago, his development has now been dealt a blow by injury. Jackson’s development since his injuries will provide some succour to Hunter, and he certainly won’t be short of company in the Murrayfield treatment room.
Fly-half Piers Francis is also out of action at least until next month, though he is still waiting to see a specialist for a full diagnosis on a troubling foot injury which may require surgery and a longer time out. Captain Greig Laidlaw (knee) and centre Matt Scott (ankle), two other options for the No 10 berth, are also out until next month and are facing a race to be fit for the start of Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup campaign in mid-October.
Harry Leonard, another promising young talent desperate for game-time, has slotted in well at stand-off and could benefit by enjoying a run in the role, but head coach Alan Solomons is working to strengthen the cover over the next fortnight.
Meanwhile, the club has appointed a new strength and conditioning coach in Crofton Alexander. The former Belgrave Harriers sprinter worked with Wasps for six years and England Under-20s before taking over last year as Head of Strength and Conditioning at an LTA High Performance Centre, where he worked with leading British senior and junior tennis players.
Also a qualified weightlifting coach, Alexander has made a swift return to rugby after Andy Boyd was moved within the SRU’s set-up to work with age-grade squads and started with Edinburgh this month.
There is also a promotion for Scottish coach Mike Leggett, who moves from the SRU’s pathway team to Edinburgh as a conditioning coach, with a third strength and conditioning coach to be appointed next month.