DCSIMG

Solomons quick to appease reluctant second row Denton

Edinburgh and Scotland rugby player David Denton. Picture: TSPL

Edinburgh and Scotland rugby player David Denton. Picture: TSPL

  • by DAVID BARNES
 

ALAN SOLOMONS has assured David Denton and Edinburgh Rugby fans that his deployment in the second row for tonight’s clash against Munster at Meggetland is purely an emergency measure which he has no desire to repeat unless he absolutely has to.

“It is a one-off due to injuries,” said Solomons. “We don’t really have a lot of choice at this time. We lost Sean Cox for the rest of the season with a torn hamstring, then we lost Izak van der Westhuizen for the Zebre game with a head knock, so Ollie Atkins started that game but went off after ten minutes with torn ligaments in his knee. Now Izak has taken another a knock so it was felt prudent to leave him out. All of which means we are missing three locks at the moment.”

Edinburgh also have Ben and Alex Toolis on their books. The Australian twins stand 6ft 7ins tall, tip the scales at just over 18 stones, and as former international volleyball players they are terrific athletes. But Solomons believes they are still a little bit too wet behind the ears for the challenge of facing up to the might of Munster, who have named their talismanic leader Paul O’Connell alongside Donncha O’Callaghan in their engine room.

“Our feeling was that, having seen everyone, we would be best off with playing Denton in the lock position,” said Solomons. “Ben is a young lad who has a lot of potential, but he hasn’t played a lot of rugby this season, and he also hasn’t come from a steep rugby background in Australia. He did play but his major sport was volleyball – so while I think that he and Alex are going to develop into very good rugby players, at this stage of his career I think it is more appropriate that we look at the bench situation.”

Denton played in the second-row at age-grade level, and has filled in there as injury or yellow-card cover on several occasions for both Scotland and Edinburgh since then – but this is his first start at lock in over three years and the 24-year-old seemed less than enthused about being dragged away from his usual back-row berth when he took to Twitter yesterday afternoon.

“First and hopefully last pro game in the 2nd row this weekend,’ he tweeted, before jovially asking if the old- fashioned ankle boot, usually associated with out-of-shape social rugby players, is available in white.

Unfortunately for Denton, it seems entirely possible that he’ll be asked to don the No 5 jersey again next weekend against Leinster because, while Solomons is hopeful that van der Westhuizen will be available for that match, he cannot be 100 per cent sure that his countryman will get over his concussion in time.

At least this selection gives Denton the opportunity to resurrect a partnership in the second-row with Grant Gilchrist which was originally forged during the 2010 Junior World Cup, when the pair packed down together against Tonga and Ireland.

Looking ahead to next season, Solomons said that he doesn’t anticipate a recurrence of this selection headache – despite the fact that both Cox and van der Westhuizen are due to leave the club this summer.

Natal Sharks lock Anton Bresler has been linked with a summer move to Edinburgh, and he is unlikely to be the only second-row recruit during the next few months.

“We’ll be all right. It will become clear in due course – but we will be sorted out in that position for next season,” said the coach.

Meanwhile, tonight’s match will be the last Edinburgh appearance on home soil for Greig Laidlaw before he joins Gloucester, and Solomons paid a glowing tribute to his departing captain yesterday.

“You can see the huge difference he made to our performance [when he came back after five weeks out] last weekend. I thought we showed a lot of character and a lot of heart in that performance against Glasgow, and all the players must take credit for that, but Greig as a leader had a major role,” he said.

“His personal performance was superb. He read and managed the game very well, and I thought his goal kicking was absolutely outstanding.”

“It doesn’t matter how big the occasion or how much pressure there is, he copes with it comfortably. He has a very good head for the game and he’s tenacious. He has done an excellent job here during a season when we have started to rebuild the club.”

Edinburgh

15 J Cuthbert

14 T Brown

13 M Scott

12 A Strauss

11 T Visser

10 C Bezuidenhout

9 G Laidlaw (c)

1 A Dickinson

2 R Ford

3 W Nel

4 G Gilchrist

5 D Denton

6 M Coman

7 T Leonardi

8 C Du Preez

Subs

16 J Hilterbrand

17 W Blauuw

18 S Berghan

19 T Toolis

20 D Basilaia

21 G Hart

22 P Francis

23 S Beard

Munster

15 S Zebo

14 G VD Heever

13 J Murphy

12 D Hurley

11 A Conway

10 JJ Hanrahan

9 C Murray

1 J Cronin

2 D Casey

3 J Ryan

4 D O’Callaghan

5 P O’Connell (c)

6 CJ Stander

7 T O’Donnell

8 P Butler

Subs

16 D Varley

17 D Kilcoyne

18 A Cotter

19 D Foley

20 J Coughlan

21 D Williams

22 I Keatley

23 L O’Dea

Edinburgh Rugby team to play Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12 at Meggetland tomorrow (Saturday 3 May, kick-off 5pm) – live on BBC ALBA

15 Jack Cuthbert

14 Tom Brown

13 Matt Scott

12 Andries Strauss

11 Tim Visser

10 Carl Bezuidenhout

9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN

1 Alasdair Dickinson

2 Ross Ford

3 Willem Nel

4 Grant Gilchrist

5 David Denton

6 Mike Coman

7 Tomas Leonardi

8 Cornell Du Preez

Substitutes

16 James Hilterbrand

17 Wicus Blauuw

18 Simon Berghan

19 Ben Toolis

20 Dimitri Basilaia

21 Grayson Hart

22 Piers Francis

23 Sam Beard

 

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