Rugby: David determined to Duff up Stew-Mel on Accies debut

FORMER England under-20 scrum half David Duffus will fulfil a rugby ambition tomorrow when he runs out for Edinburgh Accies at Stewart's-Melville on the opening day of the Scottish Hydro Premiership.

"After being born in Edinburgh and living here until I was five years old, it was always my aim to play north of the Border and, thanks to an army posting with the Royal Regiment of Scotland I now have that chance ... at least until I'm posted to Afghanistan in eight months," says Duffus, now 21.

While everything will be new to the one-time Saracens academy player, what is clear is that Duffus has plenty of experience to put at Accies' disposal.

A member of the England under-20 squad that reached the final of the world championships in Dubai four years ago, Duffus has formed a half-back partnership with England and Wasps stand off Danny Cipriani while other age-group representative team-mates included Test wing David Strettle of Harlequins.

"While I'm off to Afghanistan before the end of the season, my regiment are going to be based in Edinburgh so there is every chance of putting down some roots in a city where the rugby is going to be a step into the unknown and therefore challenging," he says.

Meanwhile, Stewart's-Melville coach Graeme Moffat is pinning much hope on a pedigreed stand off in looking to take advantage of a home start.

"Above all, I'm glad we're kicking off at Inverleith and the fact it is a local derby should encourage a lot of our supporters to turn out and get behind us on what is hopefully a permanent return to Division One," says Moffat in unveiling a team that includes Liam Steele, son of former Scotland and Lions winger, Billy.

"Liam has proved a really good distributor after joining from Edinburgh University while other newcomers, including hooker Sam Blackwood (ex-Glasgow Hawks) and flanker Paul Voy (ex-Preston Lodge), can help offset a lengthy injury list featuring Alex Edmonstone, Stephen Dalgleish, Stuart Kerr, Nicky Wood, Haydn Lingaard, Andy Muir and Blair Tweedie.

Also in the Capital, Currie entertain division two champions Dundee High FPs with a side that includes top New Zealand provincial second row Ryan Wilson, from North Harbour, while Chris Kinloch is released by Glasgow.

The 6ft 7in and 18st Wilson has represented New Zealand under 21s and has family connection in Dalkeith.

Joining from English club Westoe is Kiwi winger Willie Moala, while ex-Natal Sharks stand off Andrew Binicos has recovered from a broken leg sustained playing for Cyprus, which meant a season out.

The foreign influx also sees Watsonians visit West with a side containing 6ft 4in and 18st ex-Hawkes Bay and Otago B second row Tal Weizman.

'Sonian coach Bruce Aitchison says: "Tal is a big, aggressive character who wants to see a bit of the world and we'll also debut flanker Ramsay Dean, who has moved from Stourbridge where he represented Scottish Exiles at age group level."

Weizman forms a partnership with ex-Scotland A lock Mark Rennie just in front of Kiwi flanker Gavin Callander while, among the backs, last year's schoolboys Grant Somerville and Jamie Forbes are listed in the squad.

Prospects of Heriot's putting one over on champions Ayr at Millbrae have been boosted by the release of Dave McCall from Glasgow.

There are five debutants in the Heriot's squad – Peter Saunders, Sam Johnston, Phil O'Connor, Jason Hill and Michael Maltman.

Boroughmuir, meanwhile, open at Selkirk. Coach Fergus Pringle includes himself in a 20-man squad with regular second row Greig Scott unavailable.

In Premiership Division Two, Haddington visit Kirkcaldy, while Musselburgh entertain Irvine in Division Three.

The national league programme includes Annan v Edinburgh University, Ellon v Murrayfield Wanderers and East Kilbride v RH Cougars in Division One while Preston Lodge begin life in Division Two at home to Newton Stewart.

There's a home start for Trinity Accies against Aberdeenshire with Forrester bound for Lenzie in Division Three.