Bill Mata, Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining on the mend as Edinburgh return for pre-season

Edinburgh Rugby’s long-term injury list is easing and coach Mike Blair hopes to have key players Jamie Ritchie, Bill Mata, Nick Haining and Henry Immelman back for the start of the season.

Edinburgh have been without Viliame Mata since the No 8 injured his knee against Benetton last December.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Edinburgh have been without Viliame Mata since the No 8 injured his knee against Benetton last December. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Ritchie has been out since tearing his hamstring in Scotland’s Six Nations win over England on February 5. The flanker needed surgery but is back running and should be able to return to full training within the next two weeks.

Mata, the Fijian international No 8, damaged his knee badly last December but is also running although Blair will not rush him back.

“With such a long term injury you’ve got to make sure you get the planning right and that he comes back in good shape so he’s not holding himself or restricting himself,” said the coach. “He’s running around and we hope to see him back training with us in the next couple of weeks.”

Fellow back-row Nick Haining underwent a shoulder operation and should return in the next fortnight.

Props Boan Venter and Luan de Bruin have also undergone surgery, on knee and hamstring injuries respectively. “Boan [Venter]’s not too far off, he’s in good shape as well,” said Blair. “Luan will be a little bit longer but again we expect him to be back in training in the next couple of weeks.”

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Scrum-half Henry Immelman is fully fit after missing the end of the season with a knee injury.

Some of Edinburgh’s squad returned for their first block of pre-season training this week. Missing were those who have been on international duty. They have been given an extended break and will not begin their pre-season until August 15.

Winger Emiliano Boffelli is unlikely to be available until much later due to his involvement with Argentina in the Rugby Championship which does not finish until September 24.

Edinburgh have also begun working with the three new academy players aligned to the club, Robbie Deans, Liam McConnell and Finn Douglas.

Blair’s pre-season plans will continue with a training camp in Largs later in August and the club will then play two friendly matches, against London Scottish at home on September 2 and Benetton Treviso away on September 9, before the URC season starts.

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