DCSIMG

Nick de Luca tackle a one-off, says Bradley

Edinburgh Rugby head coach Michael Bradley. Picture: SNS

Edinburgh Rugby head coach Michael Bradley. Picture: SNS

  • by DAVID FERGUSOn
 

EDINBURGH are considering an appeal against the 13-week ban imposed on centre Nick de Luca as they prepare to face Scarlets in Wales tonight.

The Scotland international was suspended this week for a dangerous tackle on Ospreys scrum-half Tom Grabham in last week’s RaboDirect PRO12 match. De Luca was immediately red-carded in the match.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley said they would wait for the full written reasons for the lengthy suspension before considering whether to appeal, but there is concern in the Edinburgh camp that, while they agree that the player deserved a ban, it is significantly longer than any previously dished out for similar types of tackles.

“It’s pretty severe in terms of the suspension,” said Bradley. “We’ll take our time and have a good look at it.

“Nick himself looked at the incident post-match and we have looked at it again in the past couple of days, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. It was a dangerous tackle and we accept that, but we will look at the judgment to see if it warrants an appeal.

“It was out of character in relation to other punishments for similar types of offences but we just have to look at how they interpreted the tackle and take it from there.”

Bradley was quick to state that he did not condone the tackle and De Luca has apologised to his team-mates for the offence, which reduced them to 14 men and contributed to their tenth straight defeat.

If the ban stands, he will not play again this season, which is the last thing the club needs as they seek to end a demoralising run of results with a final run of morale-boosting wins.

De Luca has suffered from ill-discipline issues in the past, and picked up a series of yellow cards with Edinburgh and Scotland but not for violent play, so Edinburgh believe that that should not have counted against him.

Bradley said: “We wouldn’t condone or encourage that type of tackle but a professional for eight years, who has played in over 130 matches and 38 internationals, he’s never tackled like that, so we’re seeing it as a one-off incident. He’s had no issues of foul play against him as a player.

“But for that tackle, he’s been a model professional in that sense, but he’s aware of the consequences and we have to wear it as a club. But, first things first, we need to see how they interpreted it and the make-up of the 13 weeks, and then we’ll see if we’re in a position to challenge it.

“Obviously he’s a quality player so we would prefer to have all players of that quality available to us, so it’s not ideal [if the ban stands] but, as we’ve seen here in the last couple of years, when so-called established players are not available the younger players are given a go and we see what they can do. And, if they perform well, as Dougie Fife has for example this season when at the start of the year we didn’t have him close to the side, it’ll give another player another opportunity to perform and we’ll see what happens.”

The player handed De Luca’s 13 jersey is, actually, a reasonably experienced performer in Ben Cairns, who has just returned from nearly two years out of the game with two serious knee ligament injuries but whose future in the game remains in doubt.

Bradley has hardly seen Cairns play in his two years at the club, and would not be drawn on whether his contract would be renewed this summer.

“He’s a quality player and whether he’ll be the same player post the two operations is up for question, but he has still got phenomenal knowledge out on the pitch, is an experienced player and his role might change as to how he might contribute to Edinburgh Rugby.”

He left it at that, but it sounded like the club may be considering a move from playing to coaching for the 27-year-old.

Elsewhere, Bradley keeps faith with the bulk of the side that lost to the Ospreys for their return to Wales tonight, David Denton the only Scotland player released from the Six Nations squad and prop Allan Jacobsen making his first start since January and hooker Steven Lawrie – a late withdrawal last weekend – back this week.

Scarlets edged the last meeting at Murrayfield 29-28 with 23 points from 20-year-old stand-off Harry Leonard keeping the hosts in contention up to the death, and Leonard is back in the pivotal position this week.

Scarlets are still fighting for a place in the play-offs, sitting just one point behind the fourth-placed Ospreys with strugglers Zebre and the Dragons next on their fixture list. The Scarlets’ three-game winning run ended with a 32-5 defeat at Leinster on Saturday, but they have won their last three home games and won their last four against Scottish opposition but guarding against complacency may be coach Simon Easterby’s priority.

The former Welsh internationalist said: “There is plenty to go in terms of the fixtures left. We have to play Glasgow and a lot of the top-placed sides still have to play each other. We are in the mix and it’s great that there is still so much to play for in the short amount of games left; we have potentially a really good run in.”

TEAM LINE-UPS

Scarlets

15 L Williams

14 N Reynolds

13 G Maule

12 A Warren

11 A Fenby

10 A Thomas

9 A Davies

1 P John

2 E Phillips

3 S Lee

4 J Ball

5 J Synman

6 A Shingler

8 R McCusker (c)

7 J Edwards

Subs

16 M Rees

17 R Jones

18 D Manu

19 S Timani

20 K Murphy

21 G Davies

22 O Williams

23 K Phillips

Edinburgh

15 G Tonks

14 D Fife

13 B Cairns

12 B Atiga

11 L Jones

10 H Leonard

9 R Rees

1 A Jacobsen

2 S Lawrie

3 W Nel

4 P Parker

5 S Cox (c)

6 S McInally

8 D Denton

7 H Watson

Subs

16 A Titterell

17 J Yapp

18 A Allan

19 R McAlpine

20 N Talei

21 C Leck

22 P Francis

23 T Brown

 

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