Blair Kinghorn: I'm playing at 10 for Edinburgh but I'm far from specialist there
Blair Kinghorn played his best game yet at stand-off in Edinburgh’s win over the Dragons at the weekend, but remains loath to be seen as a specialist No 10.
The Scotland international made his name as a full-back, made his first Test start on the wing, and is regarded by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend as someone who can play anywhere across the back division with the possible exception of scrum-half. Unsurprisingly, then, he believes that his versatility is an important part of his game, even though he is relatively happy with the way in which he is adapting to life as a fly-half.
“I feel like I’m playing really well at 10, and that’s where I’m more seen at Edinburgh,” said Kinghorn, who scored 10 points with the boot in his team’s 30-14 win over the Dragons at the weekend. “But I have the ability to play in other positions. In the Japan game I think I was covering five positions, so still being able to have that versatility and switch in and out is really good.
“I feel like I’m finding my feet a little bit more at 10,” he continued. “It’s obviously challenging, because I played 10 for Scotland for 60 minutes of the Tonga game and that was it for the rest of the campaign. Then coming back here, getting back in at 10 at training was a little bit different. But I’m really enjoying it.”
Kinghorn looks set to continue at stand-off in Friday night’s URC match at home to Benetton, and is favourite to hold down the position even when specialist 10 Jaco van der Walt returns from injury. However, other positions in the starting line-up against the Italians are altogether less predictable, as head coach Mike Blair wrestles with the thorny problem of what changes to make after the all-round excellence shown by the team at Rodney Parade.
Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist, Darcy Graham, Pierre Schoeman and Bill Mata were all rested at the weekend, and although Blair insisted he would consider each of those senior players for a place in the 23, he made it clear that not all of them would be included. “They’ll all come back into contention, definitely,” he said.
“We’ve a good idea what we want to do with the players. Some guys will definitely look to come back in, but other guys who played really well on Saturday will get another opportunity.”
Meanwhile, the URC has brought two South African derbies forward to this weekend as it tries to deal with the effects of the new Covid travel restrictions imposed by both the European Union and the United Kingdom. The Sharks will now play the Bulls on Friday evening, while the Stormers will take on the Lions the following afternoon. Both matches were originally scheduled to take place in February 2022.
All matches last weekend and this involving the four South African teams had to be postponed by the URC after new quarantine restrictions were announced by the EU and UK in response to the omicron variant of Covid. The European teams who were due to play there all hoped to return home before those restrictions came into effect, but while Scarlets and Zebre succeeded, Cardiff and Munster are still in South Africa after positive cases in their camps.