Edinburgh coach puts faith in new half-back pairing

Edinburgh Rugby's acting head coach Duncan Hodge is looking to new half-back pairing Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Duncan Weir to provide a spark in Swansea tonight when his side take on the Ospreys in the Guinness Pro12.

Edinburgh's Duncan Weir is back in the team after recovering from injury. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS/SRU
Edinburgh's Duncan Weir is back in the team after recovering from injury. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS/SRU

The capital side have had a quick turnaround since their defeat by the Dragons on Sunday and find themselves in Wales again and up against an in-form side.

The Ospreys sit third in the table while Edinburgh are 10th in a season that has stuttered along so far.

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As a result of there being only five days between matches Hodge has rung the changes, with seven new players coming into the starting XV.

They are Hidalgo-Clyne, Weir, Junior Rasolea at inside centre, Will Helu on the wing, prop Allan Dell, hooker Stuart McInally and lock Grant Gilchrist. The latter skippers the side.

Hidalgo-Clyne and Weir have both had frustrating campaigns to date, the former because of a lack of game time behind Sean Kennedy and the latter because of a fractured jaw sustained against Munster in September.

The two Scotland caps have come in for the rested Kennedy and Jason Tovey at scrum-half and stand-off respectively and Hodge said: “Both Sam and Duncan have been training well and deserve their chance.

“Sam has not been involved as much as he would have liked, but his attitude has been spot on and hopefully he is ready for a big performance.

“Duncan has settled in really well at the club and has been a great influence around the group. His injury was unfortunate, but he has been on the bench of late and now I feel he is ready to start.

“We were not happy with some of our attacking play last week and hopefully these two can spark something along with the other guys.

“Will Helu has been out since the pre-season match with Sale with a hamstring injury and I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on on the wing.”

Loosehead prop Dell started all three of Scotland’s autumn Tests against Australia, Argentina and Georgia, but comes straight back into the Edinburgh team at the expense of young Jack Cosgrove.

Captain Gilchrist is also back in the second-row, but hooker Ross Ford and back-row forward Hamish Watson are being rested after their international exertions when the latter picked up a knock to the ribs. “We took the guys returning from Scotland duty on a case by case basis as we have a big December coming up,” Hodge said.

“Allan has played a lot of minutes for Scotland, but he is keen to keep going and get more game time under his belt and his presence in the scrum will be important.

“Grant is looking forward to the game while Ross and Hamish get some well-deserved rest. They will hopefully come back into things in the coming weeks, but for now we are happy with the team that we have selected.”

Earlier in the week, No 8 Nasi Manu suggested that some of his Edinburgh team-mates do not mentally prepare properly for matches.

Hodge acknowledges that this is something that needs to be worked on. He said: “The mental side of the game is very important and we do work with the players to make sure they prepare in the right way.

“It is something that we will look at again going forward as each player is different, but because we have had such a tight turnaround this week the focus has been on ironing things out and focusing on the Ospreys’ threats.

“We’ve moved on from last week’s result, taken lessons from the match and worked hard in training to right our wrongs, with the players showing a real focus and positive attitude to make amends to their game, both personally and as a collective.

“We know that the Ospreys have a good pack and we will need to be ‘at it’ from the first scrum while I am ideally looking for more physicality in our defence.”