Darcy Graham part of the ‘big picture’ with Scotland despite his return to Edinburgh
Graham trained with the national side this week but will start the United Rugby Championship match in Swansea.
Scotland host England in the Calcutta Cup next weekend and it was felt Graham would benefit from more game-time ahead of the Murrayfield clash.
“Darcy was due to play in the Saracens game [before Christmas] but he picked up a knock before that, so that put him out,” said Blair. “Then the two Glasgow games were canned as well. So he’s really only played the game last week [against Brive].
“I thought he did really well. I would have thought he’s definitely going to be in that big picture with Scotland, so we’re absolutely delighted to get him back to get him some game time. He’s had a great energy about it and he brings that out in the other players as well.”
Magnus Bradbury has also returned from the international camp to play for Edinburgh, while two other Scotland squad members, Mark Bennett and Ben Vellacott, will be on the bench. Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and Nick Haining are not involved. Haining has a shoulder injury but should be fit within a few days.
With 13 Edinburgh players called up for the Six Nations, Blair knows his team selections during the next few weeks will be shaped by the needs of Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.
Having worked with the national side as Townsend’s assistant Blair knows how these things work and appreciates he may have to be nimble.
“You kind of know the job you’re in, and for the next couple of months we might not hear until a day or two before a game about what players we’ve got exactly,” added the Edinburgh coach.
The rescheduling of fixtures to accommodate the two postponed 1872 Cup games means the Six Nations period will be busier than Edinburgh originally anticipated and the URC leaders face a run of tricky games.
Six of their next seven matches are away from home. After Ospreys, Blair’s men will face Leinster (a), Munster (a), Connacht (h), Glasgow (a) and then a double header in South Africa against the Sharks and Lions.
“We’re going to be really tested in this period but it’s great, it’s a brilliant challenge for us,” said Blair.
“I’ve spoken a little bit before about how we get our guys game time during internationals but this is perfect for us. This allows our guys to take what we’ve done in training and put it out on the pitch.”
Edinburgh have made nine changes in total for the Ospreys game. Henry Immelman comes in at full-back as Emiliano Boffelli moves to the wing and Freddie Owsley drops out; Matt Currie, who is named as vice-captain for the first time, is at outside centre in place of Bennett; Jaco van der Walt replaces Kinghorn at stand-off; Henry Pyrgos is in for Charlie Shiel at scrum-half; Boan Venter replaces Schoeman at loosehead; Marshall Sykes replaces Gilchrist at lock; Magnus Bradbury takes over from Ritchie as blindside flanker and Connor Boyle replaces Watson at openside.
Ospreys v Edinburgh (URC, Swansea.com Stadium, Saturday, 5.15. TV: live on: Premier Sports)
Ospreys: Mat Protheroe; Keelan Giles, Michael Collins, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan; Stephen Myler, Rhys Webb (c); Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tom Botha, Rhys Davies, Lloyd Ashley, Will Griffiths, Harri Deaves, Ethan Roots.
Subs: Elvis Taione, Rhodri Jones, Rhys Henry, Huw Sutton, Morgan Morris, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Tiaan Thomas Wheeler.
Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Darcy Graham, Matt Currie, Cammy Hutchison, Emiliano Boffelli; Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos (c); Boan Venter, Dave Cherry, Angus Williams, Marshall Sykes, Glen Young, Magnus Bradbury, Connor Boyle, Mesulame Kunavula.
Subs: Adam McBurney, Harrison Courtney, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Jamie Hodgson, Ben Muncaster, Ben Vellacott, Charlie Savala, Mark Bennett.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy).
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