Pierre Schoeman: 'Freak accident' sidelines Edinburgh prop as youngster drafted in to fill loosehead void

Victory over Bayonne would set up potential trip to Durban once again to face Sharks

The prize on offer for Edinburgh if they can overcome Bayonne at the Hive on Saturday night in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup is a likely trip to Durban to face the Sharks in the quarter-finals.

The capital club are just back from a gruelling three-week stint in South Africa and the thought of returning so soon would be enough to test the hardiest of rugby travellers, to say nothing of the carbon footprint. But this is the reality of inviting South African teams into the European club competitions and Sean Everitt was admirably stoic when asked about the possibility of revisiting his old club so soon after they did a number on Edinburgh in the URC last weekend.

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“That’s part of professional sport,” said the Edinburgh coach who knows his own team have to firstly overcome their French visitors. “We’ve got to look at the bright side and be grateful to have that opportunity to have a second go at the Sharks should they go through over Zebre. That’s how I see it.” Everyone in the team knows the game last weekend was one of those we could have and should have won. It’ll be a great challenge for the guys going back but in saying that we haven’t thought too much about next week. We know the logistic plans but we need to win on Saturday night before thinking about the Sharks.”

Pierre Schoeman suffered a concussion injury during an Edinburgh Rugby training session. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Pierre Schoeman suffered a concussion injury during an Edinburgh Rugby training session. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Pierre Schoeman suffered a concussion injury during an Edinburgh Rugby training session. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Everitt has picked a strong side but there is a notable absentee in the front row where Pierre Schoeman is ruled out by a concussion he sustained in training on Tuesday. “it was a freak accident,” said the coach. “He went down to place the ball and someone was folding around him and he bumped his head on the guy’s knee, so that should be a short-term turnaround but we will follow the return to play protocols.”

With Robin Hislop out long term with a serious knee injury and Boan Venter also sidelined, Edinburgh find themselves short at loosehead and Luan de Bruin will wear the No 1 jersey against Bayonne in what will be his first start of the season. The back-up on the bench comes from Mikey Jones, a graduate of the club’s academy who came through the ranks at Lasswade RFC, Lasswade High School and Stewart’s Melville College, and would be making his Edinburgh debut if he comes on.

“It’s credit to our academy system and the work that Mikey has put in himself,” said Everitt. “Last year’s World Cup gave him the opportunity to train and scrum against the senior players. He’s worked hard on his conditioning and we feel that he’s ready now to have a shot.”

De Bruin has played most of his rugby for Edinburgh at tighthead but Everitt remembers him as a loosehead from his time in South Africa. “It is quite a strange one because I had only known him as a loosehead before coming here. Then he came here and slotted in at tighthead as well, so it’s quite good form him to be versatile in both positions. He had his first game after being out with a lengthy injury against Ospreys, when he came on the field and won us a scrum penalty at loosehead and did his job defending the lineout fairly well. Struggled a bit against the Stormers playing against a very good front-row, but I think this is a great opportunity for him to get back to the form he was in at Leicester.”

Elsewhere, there are returns to the starting XV for the experienced Grant Gilchrist and Mark Bennett, while Ali Price is also back and will begin on the bench. Bayonne, who have dropped down from the Champions Cup and lost 12-11 at home to Glasgow Warriors in December, boast a big pack but are poor travellers and Edinburgh should have more than enough to progress.

Edinburgh v Aviron Bayonnais: EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16, Hive Stadium, Saturday 8pm. TV: live on Premier Sports.

Edinburgh: 15. Wes Goosen; 14. Jacob Henry, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Matt Currie, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Ben Healy, 9. Ben Vellacott (cc); 1. Luan de Bruin, 2. Ewan Ashman, 3. WP Nel, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Grant Gilchrist (cc), 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Bill Mata.

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Replacements: 16. Dave Cherry, 17. Mikey Jones, 18. D'arcy Rae, 19. Jamie Hodgson, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Ali Price, 22. James Lang, 23. Chris Dean.

Aviron Bayonnais: 15. Aurélien Callandret; 14. Bastien Pourailly, 13. Guillaume Martocq, 12. Yan Lestrade, 11. Nadir Megdoud; 10. Tom Spring, 9. Guillaume Rouet; 1. Quentin Bethune, 2. Vincent Giudicelli, 3. Pieter Scholtz, 4. Thomas Ceyte, 5. Manuel Leindekar, 6. Rémi Bourdeau, 7. Baptiste Heguy (c), 8. Manex Ariceta.

Replacements: 16. Thomas Acquier, 17. Pierre Castillon, 18. Martin Villar, 19. Kote Mikautadze, 20. Pierre Huguet, 21. Kleo Labarbe, 22. Thomas Dolhagaray, 23. Riko Buliruarua.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ire).



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