Edinburgh are now officially short of props with Simon Berghan sitting out a ban that means he will miss the first weekend of Six Nations action; although he did get the maximum mitigation possible, reducing it from 12 weeks down to 6. There is also a lengthy list of injured props that will affect Edinburgh and Scotland: WP Nel, Al Dickinson, Darryl Marfo and Allan Dell among them.
With that in mind, Edinburgh have this week signed Samoan international prop Jordan Lay from New Zealand-based outfit the Bay of Plenty Steamers, and he joins the club until the end of the season. He featured for Samoa in their autumn defeat to Scotland, on the loosehead side and he also has a brother, James, who plays for Samoa where both were born – although they have lived most of their lives in New Zealand. Lay is straight on to the bench for the rematch with Glasgow on Saturday at Scotstoun.
In other transfer news, second row Anton Bresler has left Edinburgh to join Alan Solomons at Worcester. He’s done good work for the club, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get that Scotland cap after all.
Back to this weekend and Cockerill hasn’t made too many changes, sticking with the guys who came back strongly following Berghan’s early sendoff and snatched the unlikeliest of victories.
Up front Matt Shields and the versatile Murray McCallum start (see prop crisis above), while Jamie Ritchie is promoted from the bench to start in the back row alongside Hamish Watson who was robbed of gametime last week by Berghan’s blunder.
In the backs, Damien Hoyland comes in (for Dougie Fife) as does James Johnstone who like Fife has just been signed to Edinburgh on a full contract. There’s still no sign of Mark Bennett, however. When he last played competitive rugby it was for Vern Cotter in the horrors of defeat to England and he was perhaps out of favour at Glasgow who had just signed Edinburgh-born Huw Jones from Western Province. Edinburgh was seen as a step down for Bennett, struggling under Solomons and then acting coach Duncan Hodge.
Times have changed a little for Edinburgh, who will have taken huge pride from the way they stayed in the game down to 14 men and will now look to put down a marker at Scotstoun.
Glasgow for their part will have severe wounds in the pride department and Dave Rennie has made a number of changes. Huw Jones dropping to the bench is probably the most notable one but he does add further power to an already pretty handy set of replacements.
Elsewhere Nick Grigg, Niko Matawalu and Finn Russell are aiming to bring the party spirit back to Scotstoun, but there are growing question marks over the Chiefs-style all-court approach being over-used. A nicely controlled performance from Finn would no doubt sooth neutral hearts going into the new year and the challenges beyond.
Probably the best festive fillip ahead of this game is seeing three young Scottish age grade talents in Matt Smith, Matt Fagerson (Glasgow) and Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) matching up in the back row. With Watson also perhaps out to prove a point, it could be quite the stramash.
The last one wasn’t short of drama but it wasn’t the highest quality of rugby. Let’s hope we get a proper showcase to end the year on.
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Ruaridh Jackson, 14. Lee Jones, 13. Nick Grigg, 12. Alex Dunbar, 11. Niko Matawalu, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Kiran McDonald, 5. Jonny Gray (capt), 6. Robert Harley, 7. Matt Smith, 8. Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Siua Halanukonuka, 19. Greg Peterson, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. George Horne, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Huw Jones.
Edinburgh: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Damien Hoyland, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Phil Burleigh, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Murray McCallum, 2. Stuart McInally (capt), 3. Matt Shields, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. Neil Cochrane, 17. Jordan Lay, 18. Elliot Millar-Mills, 19. Fraser McKenzie, 20. Cornell du Preez, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Chris Dean, 23. Darcy Graham.
At Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday 30 December (kick-off 3.15pm) – live on Sky Sports