Mike Blair: Edinburgh have a world-class talent on our hands

Argentina international Emiliano Boffelli only arrived at Edinburgh at the start of this week, but head coach Mike Blair believes the full-back is a world-class talent and had no hesitation in naming him in the team to play the Dragons in the URC on Saturday.

Emiliano Boffelli during a Edinburgh Rugby training session at the DAM Health Stadium.
Emiliano Boffelli during a Edinburgh Rugby training session at the DAM Health Stadium.

The 26-year-old was actually signed from Racing 92 before Blair took over from Richard Cockerill in the summer, but has been unavailable hitherto because of international duties.

“It’s important to get Emiliano involved as quickly as possible,” Blair said. “He’s an outstanding, world-class player. We could have waited another week, but [the best way] to get the best out of him in the medium and longer term is to get him straight in and playing.

“He’s very good under the high ball. He moves really well and has an excellent off-loading game as well. He’ll fit in really well with what we’re trying to do.

“He was signed prior to me taking up my role. And when I saw we had signed him I was really excited as I’d seen what he had done previously with Argentina and a little bit with Racing. I’ve been watching him closely in the Rugby Championship and the autumn games as well and he’s had some really positive impacts in the game.”

Boffelli’s compatriot Ramiro Moyano is on the left wing this evening, which should make the new man’s integration all the easier. Damian Hoyland completes the back three in the absence of Darcy Graham, who has been rested in the wake of the Autumn Nations Series along with forwards Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson.

Former Ulster hooker Adam McBurney makes his debut up front, while Watsonians loosehead prop Harrison Courtney could take part in his first professional game if he comes off the bench. Scrum-half Ben Vellacott captains the team for the first time, having impressed Blair with his willingness to take a lead in training and during games.

The Dragons have only won one of their five league games to date but have come close in other matches, and Blair expects a demanding contest. “They’re a good side,” he added. “Not many teams put 30 points on Connacht at Connacht. We know we need to be absolutely at our best.”