Why Edinburgh’s style now better suited to Scotland - injury and rest update from Mike Blair

Mike Blair welcomed four new Scotland caps into his Edinburgh squad this week when his players returned from the autumn internationals and he sensed they were all walking a little taller.

Edinburgh's Marshall Sykes, Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Hodgson and Luke Crosbie were among eight Scotland debutants against Tonga. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Edinburgh's Marshall Sykes, Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Hodgson and Luke Crosbie were among eight Scotland debutants against Tonga. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Luke Crosbie, Jamie Hodgson, Pierre Schoeman and Marshall Sykes made their bows in dark blue, part of a 11-strong contingent from the capital club who featured in the recent Tests.

Blair, who stepped down as assistant with the national side to succeed Richard Cockerill as coach of Edinburgh in the summer, feels the style of rugby the club is playing now is a better fit for Scotland and has received positive feedback to that effect from Gregor Townsend.

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“He’s been really pleased with how our guys have gone,” said Blair. “The way we’re playing here at the moment fits a bit better with what Scotland are trying to do so hopefully we’re upskilling our guys in that area which will be more beneficial for the national team as well.

“The guys coming back like Marshall and Hodgy – Gregor’s been massively complimentary about them.”

Edinburgh return to action against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday and Blair will take his time this week to assess which of his internationals are ready for the fray.

Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and Schoeman played in all four of Scotland’s matches while Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally and Hodgson were involved in three.

“We’ve given a few guys Monday and Tuesday off and then we’ll see where they’re at after that,” said Blair.

“A lot of them have played a fair few minutes with the national squad over the past four or five weeks so it is important for them from a physical and mental point of view to get their heads out of things.

Blair now hopes the experiences of his newly capped quartet can rub off on Edinburgh.

“I think there is a greater understanding of what they can do and where they can get to,” said the coach. “Speaking to some of the individuals they have talked about the learnings they got and what they can bring back and how they can lead and make a bigger influence on what we’re trying to do. From my point of view that’s excellent.

“The shoulders are out a little bit more than usual. It’s great because they’ve got to prove to the guys who stay here why they are involved in the national team. The guys who trained with us will be equally wanting to say: ‘don’t get too comfortable because we’re coming after you’. It’s a nice balance to have.”

Blair has no fresh injuries ahead of the trip to Wales and centre Mark Bennett is on the mend from the knee injury which caused him to miss the autumn Tests.

Edinburgh can also now call upon the services of their new Argentine back Emiliano Boffelli who has landed in the city after being part of the Los Pumas squad on their European tour.

“He’s a quality international,” said Blair. “I know Argentina struggled a bit in that last game [a loss to Ireland] but he’s performed pretty consistently throughout and played well for Racing during his time there too. He was someone who was signed prior to me getting here but who I’m pleased to have.”

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