Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons believes South Africa’s loss will be Scotland’s gain after Cornell du Preez extended his contract by two years just months out from becoming eligible under the residency rule.
The back-row forward will qualify for Scotland just before this year’s autumn internationals and Solomons was glowing in his praise for the 24-year-old “project player” yesterday.
“He’s a terrific player. I think he’s a Test match player,” said the coach. “I’ve always felt that from my time when I coached him at the Southern Kings. I was surprised that he elected to leave South Africa as I felt he could have become a Springbok, but he felt he wanted to come across to Scotland.”
Du Preez has been one of Edinburgh’s most consistent and impressive performers this term and has shown great tenacity in returning from a horrific ankle break which wrecked last season. After suffering the injury against Lyon in October 2014 he did make it back to be involved in the latter stages of the Guinness Pro12 and the run to the European Challenge Cup final and has kicked on as practically an ever present in this campaign.
The Port Elizabeth-born former South Africa Under-20 said: “If I got the opportunity to play for Scotland it would be a big privilege. It is something in the back of my mind but I will keep it there until it arrives.
“Alan had a big influence on me coming here and probably that [playing for Scotland] was a long-term goal. But at the moment I am happy where Edinburgh is going so that is the reason I signed. I am quite comfortable in this environment and enjoying it at the moment. It is a good place to be. Edinburgh is always busy and I enjoy the city.”
Hooker Neil Cochrane has also re-signed with Edinburgh for another two seasons and the 32-year-old is one of 11 changes from the team that lost in Grenoble last weekend to the one that will face Cardiff away in the Guinness Pro12 this evening.
With injuries to Ben Toolis and Anton Bresler the already parlous second row has been plunged into crisis once again, with skipper Mike Coman having to move up from back row to partner Alex Toolis.
Six players are with the Scotland Six Nations squad and there are further injuries to Jack Cuthbert (arm) and Damien Hoyland (knee).