Edinburgh back South to hit ground running up north

Edinburgh assistant coach Stevie Lawrie is confident that new loan signing Stan South will hit the ground running when he makes his debut against Connacht tonight.

Stan South will replace Grant Gilchrist in the Edinburgh line-up against Connacht. Picture: SNS/SRU.
Stan South will replace Grant Gilchrist in the Edinburgh line-up against Connacht. Picture: SNS/SRU.

The 23-year-old, recruited on a short-term basis from Exeter Chiefs, partners Lewis Carmichael in the second row in place of Grant Gilchrist, who has been called up by Scotland, and Fraser McKenzie, who is out injured.

“He’s a big, robust lock, and somebody who we’ll be looking to hit rucks, carry hard and get us over the gain line – and also defensively, make sure he’s putting in shots,” Lawrie said of South, who played for Harlequins before joining Exeter. “He’s a good lad. He’s come in and he seems to be knowledgeable and he’s working hard, so he gets a shot and complements Lewis Carmichael with that skill set.”

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South is one of five changes to the capital team’s starting line-up for the Pro14 Conference B game, the other four being split between half-back and front row.

Nic Groom captains the team from scrum-half in place of Henry Pyrgos, who is travelling to Rome as cover, while Simon Hickey takes over at stand-off from Jaco van der Walt. Up front, Mike Willemse and Simon Berghan replace the injured Dave Cherry and Test call-up WP Nel respectively, while Boroughmuir Bears prop Dan Winning could make his debut off the bench.

Between international call-ups and injuries, Edinburgh are missing 17 players, but Lawrie is confident they still have enough experience to acquit themselves well against opponents whose absentee list is far shorter. “When the guys were away at the World Cup, the other players fronted up really well and we believe we’ve got a squad that can go through this time,” he said.

“You look at the guys left behind, there’s a lot of experience there – guys like Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett – you’re not talking about second-rate players. We’ve got a lot of quality. Bill Mata is at 8 because Fiji don’t play at this time of year, which is a bonus.”

Edinburgh are three points clear in Conference B after last week’s hard-fought win at Scarlets.

l Glasgow co-captain Ryan Wilson has signed a two-year contract extension, tying him to the club until summer 2020.