Edinburgh players still in dark over Mike Blair future - but hopes remain that coach will stay

Edinburgh’s match against the Ospreys on Saturday night was seen as a chance for the players to put on a show for Mike Blair in his final home game as head coach. They put on a show, all right, beating the Welsh side 45-21 to record their first URC victory since January.

According to Hamish Watson, however, the players had not talked before the game about delivering a good performance as a send-off for the coach – because he, for one, hopes Blair will still be at the club next season.

The former Scotland scrum-half will certainly not be continuing in his present role, having decided after two years at the helm that he would rather concentrate on becoming “a world-class attack coach”. But there is a growing sentiment within the club that Blair is likely to still be a part of the coaching team next season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We still don’t really know what’s going on there,” Watson admitted. “I don’t think anyone does for next season, so we didn’t really put it on for Mike as we still don’t know. Hopefully Mike will be with us next year in some capacity.

Edinburgh's Hamish Watson in action during the victory over Ospreys on Saturday.  (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)Edinburgh's Hamish Watson in action during the victory over Ospreys on Saturday.  (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)
Edinburgh's Hamish Watson in action during the victory over Ospreys on Saturday. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)

“It was more just for the fans, for the leavers. We’ve got players leaving here on 100 caps, people like Jaco [van der Walt] as well who are on 96 caps. We’ve got a lot of good club men leaving this season, so it was about putting on a performance for them as well in their last game at home.

“We probably owed that to the fans. It’s been a bit of a dodgy season and we know that with the team we put out we should be performing like that every week.

“I thought we owed that to ourselves as well a bit, because we’ve been under-performing. It was a decent performance, but still so much to work on as well.”

Scotland openside Watson scored the last of his team’s five first-half tries, with Ben Vellacott, Dave Cherry, Sam Skinner and Emiliano Boffelli also touching down. Boffelli converted all five, and at 35-7 the game was in the bag by the break. Darcy Graham added two more tries - both unconverted - in the second half.

The only real problem for Edinburgh was early in the match when they could not get their lineout sorted out, a problem that led to the Ospreys’ first try. “There were a few overthrows,” Watson admitted. “They’ve got a good defence in the lineout - they’ve got people like Alun-Wyn Jones and Adam Beard, who are two top players and very good in the lineout. So we knew it was never going to be easy.

“After that I think we got to grips with it and started calling away from them. I thought it certainly got better as the game went on, definitely.”

Edinburgh are now up to 12th in the table and could finish as high as ninth if they beat Ulster in Belfast on Friday night and other results go their way. Ulster have already qualified for a home quarter-final, but they need to win to secure second place behind Leinster, and Watson expects a harder battle than the Ospreys were able to put up.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It will be different gravy - away from home has never been our strongest suit. We know it will be a tough game against a good Ulster team, so it’s another really good test for us at the end of the season.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.