Edinburgh winger Jack Blain set for landmark debut

Jack Blain played for Edinburgh in the pre-season friendly match against Bath at Meggetland. Picture: SNS/SRU
Jack Blain played for Edinburgh in the pre-season friendly match against Bath at Meggetland. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Winger Jack Blain will become the first player born this century to play a competitive match for Edinburgh today in Italy.

Blain, who turned 19 on 21 February and was born in 2000, has been handed a 
Guinness Pro14 debut by coach Richard Cockerill for this afternoon’s crucial encounter in Treviso against Benetton.

Win and Edinburgh’s play-off dreams in Conference B are very much alive, but lose and it looks like it would take a lot for them to make the top three by the end of the regular season.

With Benetton also fighting for a play-off spot it will be a tough 80 minutes.

And with the likes of Darcy Graham (rested by Scotland) and injured duo Dougie Fife (head knock) and Duhan van der Merwe (laceration on his knee) not making the trip to Italy, Stewart’s Melville College product Blain has been given the No 11 jersey.

Blain did play in the pre-season friendly match against Bath at Meggetland and since then has been turning out for Heriot’s in the Tennent’s Premiership and Scotland under-20 in the age-grade Six Nations.

Last Friday he scored a brace of tries in the under-20s’ defeat by France and on his selection Cockerill said: “He played in pre-season against Bath, he has been training with us the whole season and he scored a couple of tries last week for the under-20s and he is the next winger within our group. Jack gets his opportunity, I am delighted for him and look 
forward to seeing how he goes.”

At the other end of the experience scale Edinburgh are able to call upon Scotland caps Hamish Watson and WP Nel in the pack following hand and calf injuries respectively.

“Hamish has been training pretty much fully from a conditioning point of view since he got injured because it was a hand issue so now he is comfortable and ready to play,” the head coach said.

“That is all good and with WP coming in too that is good. Obviously they will be limited in their game time, but they start and will play a good portion of the game.”

Fijian No 8 Viliame Mata, fresh from penning a new deal, misses out with a tight 
hamstring so Scotland 
Sevens man Ally Miller is in that position.

Chris Dean returns in the 
No 12 jersey having been in France with Scotland last week as cover and Henry 
Pyrgos, in a similar boat, is available and captains the team from scrum-half.