Blair Kinghorn a ‘potential world class stand-off’ as selection at 10 for Edinburgh adds to Six Nations intrigue

The intrigue over who will wear the No 10 jersey for Scotland in Rome on Saturday week has been ramped up a little with the news that Blair Kinghorn will play at stand-off for Edinburgh against Connacht on Friday evening.

With Finn Russell turning in a so-so performance in the defeat by France there has been speculation that Gregor Townsend might consider a change for Italy.

It would be a bold call by the national coach and not one he will make lightly but there can be little doubt that Kinghorn is being groomed as Scotland’s stand-off of the future.

Mike Blair, his coach at Edinburgh, did little to douse this line of thinking when he described him yesterday as a “potential world class ten” and the player himself showed his credentials with his 20-minute cameo against the French at Murrayfield.

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Kinghorn’s scorching run from his own half and impudent offload set up Duhan van der Merwe’s try and although it was too late to change the course of the match it was a useful reminder of the 25-year-old’s abilities.

Kinghorn is four years Russell’s junior so there is a degree of succession planning going on here but it would be rash to jettison the Racing fly-half.

Russell may not be having his best Six Nations but the same charge could be levelled at a number of players in the squad and his role in the decisive penalty try against England and the pass which set up Darcy Graham's try in Cardiff should not be downplayed.

Kinghorn may indeed have the attributes to become world class but Russell is already there.

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Blair Kinghorn makes the break which led to Duhan van der Merwe's try for Scotland against France. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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Understandably, Blair’s primary concern is arresting Edinburgh’s three-game losing run and he said he was delighted to have Kinghorn at ten to take on Connacht at the DAM Health Stadium.

“When you are trying to bed a guy into the position of ten it is important he gets game time so I am really pleased to have him back,” said the coach.

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“I believe that Blair is a potential world class ten but I also believe it will take him a little bit of time to get there. But as he is getting there he can excel on his performances so he can be a very, very good ten as he goes through this transition.

Blair Kinghorn's one-handed offload produced a try for Scotland against France. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“I believe there is a world class ten in him. We just have to give him time, back him, and let him grow in that position and let him really grasp that opportunity. It is up to him to do that as he will get the opportunities.”

While Kinghorn played his schoolboy rugby at stand-off for Edinburgh Academy, his professional career has been as a wing or full-back, the positions in which he won his first 25 Scotland caps.

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“His physical stats would lean towards that with his height and speed as well,” said Blair when asked about the player’s background in the back three. “But he’s got the soft skills of a ten. Who wouldn’t like a quick ten that can catch, pass and break as well?”

James Lang and Ben Vellacott have also been released by Scotland to play against Connacht, although the latter starts on the bench. Among the replacements are academy players Jamie Campbell (lock) and Rudi Brown (back-row).

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