Connor Boyle urged to get inside Gregor Townsend’s head and seize his Edinburgh opportunity

The loss of Hamish Watson to a facial injury is a blow for Edinburgh but the flanker’s absence has at least opened the door for Connor Boyle.
Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt was hugely impressed by Connor Boyle's performance in the win over Connacht. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt was hugely impressed by Connor Boyle's performance in the win over Connacht. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt was hugely impressed by Connor Boyle's performance in the win over Connacht. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The Livingston-born back-rower made a favourable impression on Sean Everitt last weekend, with the Edinburgh coach purring about his performance in the win over Connacht. It was his first start of the season after three useful outings off the bench and if Boyle can maintain a level of consistency Everitt thinks a call-up for Scotland is a distinct possibility.

The 23-year-old has retained his place at openside for Friday’s home game against the Vodacom Bulls, the South African side who are top of the standings in the United Rugby Championship. “It’s a great opportunity for Connor,” said Everitt. “His stats were quite amazing last weekend, he had 25 rucks and turned over two balls in the time he was on the field, so he’s a guy who’s in form at the moment and playing really well.”

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Boyle is a contemporary of Rory Darge’s - they were born four days apart - and both men came through the ranks together at Edinburgh. Darge hotfooted it to Glasgow two-and-a-half years ago in the search for more game time and his career took off. He has usurped Watson as Scotland’s first choice openside and Boyle would be only human if he hadn’t cast an envious glance in Darge’s direction. But Everitt believes the Edinburgh man can follow his former team-mate into Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad.

“He would be disappointed in the fact that Rory has overtaken him,” said the coach. “Rory has played exceptionally well in the Scotland jersey and done really well for Glasgow, and I know that because I’ve been against Rory Darge when I was coaching at the Sharks. To see Rory go so far ahead of him would have been a bit of a wake-up call and I think he’s now realised with the opportunities that he has, he could get into Gregor’s head a bit and maybe challenge for a position in the national team.”

The big men of the Bulls will provide a stiff test for Boyle and the rest of the Edinburgh squad as Everitt looks to continue the progress that has seen his side win three from four in the URC. “I’ve said all along that our defence has improved substantially since last year, and that’s an area we had focused on in the pre-season,” said the coach. “The Bulls will definitely test us in that regard, and we’re also expecting to receive a lot of aerial pressure from them kicking contestables. We will be tested under the high ball.”

Everitt also clarified the injury issue around Darcy Graham who is scheduled to return in a fortnight. The winger sustained a bad knee injury against Munster 11 months ago and said in a interview on Viaplay last week that he had been bothered by it ever since. “He had a screw in his knee that had to be taken out because it was causing irritation,” explained Everitt. “That’s what he has had to live with for the last 11 months. It wasn’t that he was carrying an injury as such, or damage to the ligaments. A screw in his knee was causing irritation. That’s been removed since the World Cup, he’s feeling a lot better and he’s on track to play against Ulster.”

Edinburgh v Vodacom Bulls. URC, Hive Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm. TV: live on Viaplay.

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; W Goosen, M Bennett, J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, B Vellacott (cc); P Schoeman, E Ashman, WP Nel, G Young, G Gilchrist (cc), J Ritchie, C Boyle, V Mata. Replacements: D Cherry, B Venter, J Sebastian, M Sykes, T Dodd, A Price, C Scott, C Dean.

Vodacom Bulls: D Williams; S de Klerk, S Gans, D Kriel, S Petersen; J Goosen, E Papier; G Steenekamp, J Grobbelaar, W Louw, R Vermaak, R Nortje (cc), M Coetzee (cc), E Louw, C Hanekom.

Replacements: S Matanzima, J-H Wessels, M Smith, R Ludwig, N Carr, K Johannes, J van der Walt, C Brink.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU).



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