Edinburgh have finished the decade on a high with a hard won victory against old rivals Glasgow Warriors.
Up next: what should be a straightforward home win against Southern Kings unless Edinburgh do that most Edinburgh of things and cock it up.
After that it will get a little harder in the shape of a trip to Bordeaux to try and put the seal on a quarter final place in the Challenge Cup. A win in France will in all likelihood make the game the following week against Agen a formality that will allow Richard Cockerill a chance to rest some players and give a start to those who will probably be heavily used over the next couple of months.
The Scotland squad will assemble two days after that game and those Edinburgh players selected will thereafter be sequestered for international duty, with perhaps a small number of allowances, until the 6 Nations finishes with the final whistle against Wales at The Principality stadium on 14th March 2020.
On the domestic front then that means that Edinburgh will have to play 4 games in the PRO14 with limited resources.
15th February 2020 – they will be away to Scarlets who will probably be similarly shorn of International talent. Perhaps even including Blade Thomson.
21st February 2020 – the day before the Italy v Scotland match. At home to Connacht who may have lost a few but perhaps not as many as Scarlets or Edinburgh for that matter.
28th February 2020 – at home to Cardiff. They will probably be much the same as Connacht. This game comes in the 6 Nations break so might mean one or two who are on the periphery of the Scotland squad may get released as long as we aren’t in the midst of an injury crisis.
21st March 2020 – Away in Port Elizabeth against Kings. This is a week after the 6 Nations finishes but travel and rest protocols may mean that those who had heavy involvement in the Scotland team will probably still be absent from the Blue and Burnt Orange.
Edinburgh’s form and recent successes will mean a record number of players away on international duty. I reckon that the following players will definitely be selected-
Forwards – Jamie Bhatti, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.
Backs – Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn
Contenders may also include Henry Pyrgos and perhaps Matt Scott or Mark Bennett. They may both get selected on form but Scotland have a fair few choices at centre right now so I think it will only be one of them that gets the nod.
That leaves an Edinburgh 6N starting XV looking something like –
Hickey/Van Der Walt
Van Der Merwe
Will that team keep the league challenge afloat? Only time will tell.