Duhan van der Merwe, Pierre Schoeman return as unbeaten Edinburgh seek to address poor record in Dublin
Hard fought victories over the Dragons and Lions have yielded eight points for the Scots who are one of four teams in the league to win their opening two fixtures. Dublin has never been a happy hunting ground for Edinburgh who have not beaten Leinster in the Irish capital for 18 years but their cause will be helped by the return of the experienced Scotland pair who are in line to make their first club appearances of the season.
Van der Merwe was given an extra week off to recover from the Rugby World Cup after playing the full 80 minutes in three of Scotland’s four matches while Schoeman returned to South Africa last week following a family bereavement. Everitt, the new Edinburgh coach, now has all his Scotland World Cup players to choose from apart from the injured trio of Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Sam Skinner. Leinster, by contrast, are unlikely to select any of their Ireland internationals who were involved in France.
Rob Chrystie, Edinburgh’s assistant attack coach, said van der Merwe and Schoeman had already had a positive impact. “They’ve added loads to training,” said Chrystie. “They’ve come back in and they look really keen to get going, which is excellent to see.”
Chrystie acknowledged that a balance would have to be struck between rewarding those who had helped Edinburgh beat the Dragons and Lions and reintegrating the big guns. “We challenged the guys who were not away at the World Cup - we said ‘We’ve got to make it tough for these guys when they come back, create competition for places and drive the standards’. And they’ve definitely done that. It has created competition for places. But we know where we’re at. We’ve got a lot to work on.”
You have to go back to 2015 for the last time Edinburgh won their opening three league fixtures and the club’s poor record in Dublin should be kept in mind but Leinster have already lost to Scottish opposition this season, going down to Glasgow in the opening round. Eighteen of Leinster’s squad were away with Ireland at the World Cup and only three have so far returned to training, with Jack Conan, Joe McCarthy and Ryan Baird rejoining the squad this week. Even then, head coach Leo Cullen believes it is probably too soon to select them. “There are a few guys training,” said Cullen. “We will make some calls but we are pretty comfortable with the group that we have as well.”
Meanwhile, Christie confirmed that Emiliano Boffelli would be given an extended break following his World Cup exploits with Argentina. The Edinburgh winger played six full matches in France as the Pumas made it to the semi-finals then lost to England in the bronze medal game. “He’s had a tough shift at the World Cup and he definitely deserves a little bit of a break,” said Chrystie. “But he’s keen to get back in amongst it as well. We’ve got a big run of games coming up and it is going to take everybody to be involved.”
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