Blackadder succeeds Hadden at Edinburgh

TODD Blackadder took over as Edinburgh's interim head coach yesterday and conceded his playing days were probably over.

The former All Blacks captain, who joined Edinburgh in 2001, succeeds Frank Hadden, who stood down on Monday to concentrate on his new role as Scotland head coach.

Blackadder, 34, had been the obvious choice to replace him but his work permit allowed him only to play rugby in the UK, not coach. Yesterday, however, he was granted "exceptional approval" from Work Permits UK to allow him to take over at Edinburgh on an interim basis.

The flanker, who has been sidelined this season due to serious shoulder injury, admitted this was now probably the right moment to call time on his plating career. "I think if I do the coaching full time I won't step back into the playing arena," Blackadder said.

The former Edinburgh skipper plans to return to his native New Zealand at the end of this season. His wife and children returned this year and he has accepted a role with new NPC team Nelson-Marlborough.

Blackadder added: "I'm obviously delighted and looking forward to taking Edinburgh on from here. We have great staff and excellent players and I am excited by the challenges ahead. I want to leave my own mark on this team before I finish."

Carl Hogg (forwards), Edinburgh's academy coach Phil Smith (backs) and fitness coach Ken MacEwen will assist Blackadder, with Dave Hewett (scrum) and other senior players handed greater responsibility.

One of Blackadder's first acts was to tell his players to forget Scotland aspirations when they face city rivals Glasgow tonight in the Celtic League at Murrayfield. Dismissing suggestions that this was a Scotland trial for the autumn Tests, Blackadder said: "We are not getting sucked into the nitty-gritty trial c*** - we are here to play good rugby.

"The next three weeks are crucial; they will define our season. We go from Celtic League to the Heineken Cup and if you're not doing well in one you're unlikely to do well in the other."

Blackadder has rotated the props, with Hewett and Craig Smith returning. Francisco Leonelli replaces Simon Webster on the wing, and Rory Lawson and Simon Cross come in for Mike Blair and Matt Mustchin.

Glasgow have yet to name their side, with some players hit by a virus, but Australian prop Lloyd Campbell-McBride, 23, has been given a four-month trial to strengthen the front row.

Edinburgh (v Glasgow at Murrayfield, 7.30pm): H Southwell; C Paterson (capt), M Di Rollo, R Dewey, F Leonelli; P Godman, R Lawson; D Hewett, D Hall, C Smith, A Kellock, S Murray, A Hogg, S Taylor, S Cross. Subs: A Kelly, A Dickinson, F Pringle, A Strokosch, M Blair/J Blackwood, D Hodge, S Webster.

Glasgow: Forwards (from): S Corsar, L Harrison, S Lawson, F Thomson, K Tkachuk, T Barker, C Hamilton, D Turner, J Beattie, P Dearlove, G Hayter, S Swindall, A Wilson. Backs (from): S Barrow, G Beveridge, A Craig, C Howarth, R Lamont, G Morrison, H O'Hare, D Parks, S Pinder, M Roberts, C Shaw.