Edinburgh would love to keep Blair Kinghorn amid Toulon link but financial muscle is a concern
Kinghorn, the 50-times capped full-back, is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move to Toulon. The Top 14 club have already snapped up Scotland scrum-half Ben White and have now been credited with an interest in his international team-mate who impressed again at the weekend against Leinster despite the 36-27 defeat. The French top flight is the most lucrative league in the world and if Toulon were to make a bid then it is unlikely Scottish Rugby would be able to match it, particularly when the governing body this week posted losses of £10.5 million for the last financial year.
Kinghorn, 26, joined Edinburgh straight from school and is the youngest player to make 100 appearances for the club, a landmark he reached in May 2021. He made his debut against Benetton in October 2016 and is now in his eighth season with the capital side. He may feel the time is right for a change but Everitt is still hopeful the player sees his future in Scotland.
“We’d love to keep Blair,” said the Edinburgh coach. “I’ve said before that he’s a man with immense talent and we saw glimpses of what he can do against Leinster and his counter-attacking against the Lions. We’d like to keep Blair and his contract is up at the end of the season, but hopefully we can renew it.”
Kinghorn has taken over from the recently retired Stuart Hogg as Scotland’s first-choice full-back and won his 50th cap in the defeat by Ireland at the Rugby World Cup last month. He spent the previous two seasons at stand-off and also has extensive experience of playing on the wing and Everitt admitted that the player’s range of skills combined with his pace and versatility made him an attractive proposition.
“It’s not often that you get a full-back with that counter-attacking ability,” said Everitt, who took over at Edinburgh in the summer after a long association with the Sharks in South Africa. “He’s able to turn a game on its head like you saw at the weekend. He received a long kick and he waltzed through the defence to put James Lang away for a try. He’s a great player and he’s versatile as well. He’s played No 10 a lot for Edinburgh and he can play at wing or centre. He’s definitely worth keeping.
“I’m not sure about what his worth is. At the end of the day, I know about the finances in French rugby from my time in South Africa. Siya Kolisi was bought out of his contract at the Sharks [Racing 92 signed the Springboks’ World Cup-winning captain] so there is a lot of money but it’s also about what Blair wants to do. I’m sure that Edinburgh would like to keep Blair here because it’s his home. Ultimately it’s his decision and hopefully it’s going towards Edinburgh.”
The loss to Leinster was Everitt’s first since taking over at Edinburgh and it came at a cost after it emerged that the facial injury suffered by Hamish Watson during the first half will keep him out for several weeks. The Scotland flanker, who was replaced by Connor Boyle in Dublin, had made an impressive start to the season and was man of the match in the win over the Lions the previous weekend. He now joins Edinburgh’s high-profile injury list which includes Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham, Emiliano Boffelli, Scott Steele, Sam Skinner and Luan de Bruin.
“It’s a blow because he got man of the match against the Lions and he was doing pretty well against Leinster,” said Everitt. “Unfortunately he got that head knock pretty early and he did well to carry through until half-time. Losing a British and Irish Lion and a guy who has been in form is a loss to the team but it’s a great opportunity. Connor Boyle came on at half-time against the Dragons and he could have walked away with the man of the match from those 40 minutes. It’s a great opportunity for a guy who has always been second fiddle at Edinburgh. Let’s see if he can stake a claim to keep that No.7 jersey - that’s going to be his challenge.”
There will also be a concern around Watson’s availability for the Six Nations which kicks off for Scotland on February 3 with an away match against Wales
The better news for Edinburgh is that Ritchie has been able to return to training this week and is expected to be available for selection for the match with Vodacom Bulls at Hive Stadium on November 17. The Scotland captain injured his shoulder against Ireland at the World Cup. Graham, who suffered a hip injury in the same game, is expected back later this month. Boffelli, who sustained toe damage while playing for Argentina at the World Cup, is set to return mid-December.
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