Blair Kinghorn must cut out errors to win cap says Richard Cockerill

Blair Kinghorn will cut out the errors with more game expreience, says his coach. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Blair Kinghorn will cut out the errors with more game expreience, says his coach. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Edinburgh Rugby head coach Richard Cockerill does not think that Blair Kinghorn is ready for a Scotland call-up yet, believing the young full-back needs to cut out the errors in his game first.

Cockerill made his assessment as he named the 20-year-old as one of five changes to his side that will take on Zebre tonight in the Guinness Pro14 at Myreside.

Kinghorn has had a flying start to the season for the capital outfit and it has led many to ponder whether he will get the nod into the full Scotland squad come November.

However, after another high-profile mistake when he came off the bench in the 21-13 loss to Leinster last Friday in Dublin, Cockerill believes the under-20 and Sevens cap still has to find more consistency before Gregor Townsend comes calling.

“Blair shows some very, very good things in attack and he’s got a huge amount of potential, but I think the errors in his game aren’t acceptable at the moment and would be magnified at Test level,” he explained.

“He’s a very good player with a lot of potential, but I think for him to step to the next level he needs to be more consistent at club level which is not making that blunder once a game which unfortunately he does tend to do at times.

“It’s obviously frustrating, but you have to understand that young players will make errors and you have to back them and put them back in the team and they have to improve week by week and slowly 
those errors will become less and less.

“In six, eight, ten, 12 months you’d like to think that you will have a more rounded player, as simple as that.”

Elsewhere in tonight’s team looking to put a halt to a three-game losing streak, Nathan Fowles has replaced Sam Hidalgo-Clyne at 

WP Nel, Ben Toolis and skipper Magnus Bradbury come into the pack, while Jamie Ritchie moves to No 7 with both Hamish Watson and John Hardie injured.

Watson has a shoulder problem while Hardie sustained a head knock last week.

Loosehead prop Allan Dell returns to the matchday squad for the first time since he was called-up to the summer’s British & Irish Lions tour.

He has had a back injury and will be on the bench along with Currie Chieftains back-row Luke Crosbie, a member of the BT Sport Academy, who could make a first 
competitive appearance off the bench.

On Dell’s return the head coach said: “It is good to have Dell back with his experience, but Darryl Marfo has done a good job at loosehead and 
the nuts and bolts of his game are very good and he deserves the start.

“Allan has not played any rugby since his last game for the Lions so we have to try to manage him back to playing and, hopefully, he’ll get some game time in this one.”

Meanwhile, Cockerill is looking for stand-off Jason Tovey and centres Phil Burleigh and James Johnstone to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

With players such as Duncan Weir, Robbie Fruean and Chris Dean waiting in the wings to get their chance in the 10, 12 and 13 jerseys respectively, some thought that the man in charge may make changes to that part of the team.

However, after impressing in the defeat by Leinster he has stuck by Tovey, Burleigh and Johnstone and believes they have a big role to play in this one.

“Jason is a good playmaker while Phil has been very good for us when he has played in that role at 12 and his experience along with Jason is good,” Cockerill said.

“I thought James Johnstone added a different threat at 13 with his pace and footwork against Leinster.

“James has mainly played sevens, but he has impressed in training, he’s got a lot of pace and he’s a threat with the ball as we saw at Leinster.

“For me he’s just got to back that up and be consistent around the physical parts of the game, his defence in particular, and still give us that point of difference in attack.

“The three of them combine well.”

Johnstone is more regularly seen on the Sevens World Series circuit, but the 27-year-old did well in Dublin and will be excited about running out in front of a home crowd for the first time.

Meawhile, Zebre, who are coached by former Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley, have former Fettes College pupil George Biagi in the