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Edinburgh’s latest squad news

Jaco van der Walt
Jaco van der Walt on the attack for Edinburgh Rugby- pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Richard Cockerill revealed at a press conference this week that WP Nel and Jaco Van Der Walt had the one-year extensions to their contracts optioned, while also revealing that Darcy Graham was not expected to return to play fully for 4-6 weeks – which would put him out of the remainder of the Six Nations.

This was a bit different than the normal releases announcing contract extensions partly because it wasn’t announced by the club’s media team (with accompanying puns) and also unlike every contract that’s been announced this season, we know the exact length of time.

The two players concerned are at very different stages of their careers.

Jaco becomes Scottish qualified this year, in time for the autumn internationals and will, I would think, come under consideration for the national squad. He will be even more in demand if the bridge between Finn Russell and Gregor Townsend remains uncrossed and I suppose that may be predicated on whether Townsend is still in a job come autumn time.

Would Jaco get a start ahead of either Russell or Hastings? It’s unlikely, but I would think it would spell the end for Duncan Weir as Jaco is probably a more complete player than the Worcester player and has the same accuracy off the tee.

Speaking of endings, it may be that the coming of age of Zander Fagerson and the mobility of Simon Berghan will mean that WP Nel has been pushed down to third at best for a Scotland place and is potentially teetering on the edge of missing out altogether. Cockerill was making noises that Pietro Ceccarelli may become surplus to requirements at the club, which would suggest he expects to be able to call on the services of Nel more often especially with the Italian now back in his countries international squad.

At the same press conference, Cockers discussed the future of Simon Hickey and indicated that this was undecided with perhaps both the player and the club weighing up their options and budgets. From the players’ side, I can understand his frustrations because although both he and Van Der Walt have more or less the same number of start for Edinburgh this season it may be that Jaco’s value as a player due to his imminent SQ status just gets him the nod.

If that does transpire the club will need to obtain the services of another standoff. Jason Baggott clearly doesn’t float the coaches boat and he’s on record as saying there are no young Scottish SQ stand-offs that currently meet his approval. I’ve already seen some people mention James Lang as a potential recruit although he plays more often in the centre.

On the back of the conference Cockers also indicated that his squad was almost finalised for next season. There are currently 9 players whose future is undecided beyond the end of this season.

It would be unthinkable that Matt Scott’s contract is not renewed. It looks increasingly likely that John Barclay will hang up his boots. Second rows Jamie Hodgson and Sam Thomson are also out of contract at season end and I’d imagine one if not both of them will be renewed. Hickey, Baggott and Cecciarelli I’ve already mentioned. Young tighthead Jack Stanley I’d expect to be staying which leaves Dougie Fife, who with the full time signing of Jamie Farndale and the extension of Damien Hoyland’s contract looks set to be heading back to the Sevens circuit.

There is also the small matter of the currently loaned out Calum Hunter-Hill.  I hear repeated unsubstantiated rumours that he won’t be returning to Edinburgh, all of which have to be taken with a pinch of salt until confirmed by the club.

If my suppositions are in any way accurate that will leave the club with 41 players not including the on loan Matt Smith who may head back west at the end of the season.

So scope for a stand-off and maybe one or two others. Watch this space.

23 Responses

  1. Just because someone becomes Scottish qualified doesn’t mean they immediately are under consideration for Scotland selection – JVDW is a eminintly forgettable 10 and no more than a Pro14 club pro IMO.

    1. That makes him third or fourth choice then depending on how you rate Weir and whether Russell comes back into the equation. At the moment he would only be an injury away from the squad.

      1. I’m no big fan of Weir or Horne but I’d have been ahead of him in a heartbeat.

        Whatever happened to Connor Eastgate and Ross Thomson?

      2. Forgot about Horne!

        Eastgate has faded into the lower leagues in England.

        Thompson is doing alright in the super six as far as I know and aligned with Glasgow academy wise.

        Josh Henderson is another in the super six who I hope could still come good.

        Chamberlain looks a prospect for the under 20s and maybe worth trying to tempt up from Bristol.

        We’ve lost a few reasonable prospects at 10 over the years because it’s such a pivotal position and a hard one to break through at, I really hope the Super Six helps the likes of Thompson and Henderson maintain a chance of a pro deal.

      3. We lost Tommy Allan too because we wouldn’t give him a pro contract. We need to do much better at giving opportunities in such an
        important position.

    2. I think he’s a lot better than you’re giving him credit for. Also his game fits very well with Townsend new kick oriented game and he has a solid defense. His running game is underrated. He would be 3rd choice after Finn and Hastings which means straight onto the bench in the current state of affairs.

    3. Ridiculous statement, he is the starting 10 at a side top in their conference, his defence is rock solid, his kicking game is decent, his kicks at goal are solid, he has power in his running game.
      Behind Hastings/Russell yes.
      Ahead of Weir/Horne ? absolutely.

  2. I’ve mentioned Lang – not sure if it was on this site or not. It’s true he’s mostly played centre for Quins, but that’s mainly down to the VERY serious talent that is Marcus Smith. Would be a punt, but getting him up to Edinburgh might give us a standard of backup to Hastings & Russell that is a class above the others mentioned.

  3. Thanks Sandy, a good update.

    Isn’t Cammy Fenton out of contract this summer too?
    Matt Smith is out of contract in the summer, not sure if either pro team will re-sign him.

    Is Jack Blain under contract for next season or not? Does anyone know how it works with the “Partnership” players from the Super6?

    By my count, Edinburgh are at 35 signed for next season. I think they still need to add another complete front row, another lock, another two back rows, another two fly-halves (if they can find the mythical SQ one, so much the better), Matt Scott in the centre and possibly a young winger like Blain.

    1. Alfie, You are spot on Cammy Fenton also out of contract in the summer. Cherry has just renewed in the last few days and as you probably need 4 hookers especially with McInally frequently absent I think he’ll probably get renewed.

  4. A serious squad equipped to challenge for the Pro 14 but needing a few quality additions to be among the favourites.

    Cockerill having inherited an absolute crock of **** has been well worth his hire.

  5. Schoeman – Sutherland – Bhatti – Stanley – Mccallum
    Mcinally – Cherry – Willemse – Fenton
    Berghan – Nel – Ceccarelli
    Gilchrist – Carmichael – Hunter- Hill – South
    Toolis – Mckenzie – Hodgson – Thomson
    Ritchie – Bradbury – Barclay – Miller
    Watson – Crosbie – Smith – Kunavula
    Mata – Haining
    Pyrgos – Groom – Shiel
    Van der Walt – Hickey
    Scott – Taylor – Dean
    Bennett – Johnstone
    Graham – Sau – Blain
    Van der Merve – Farndale – Fife
    Kinghorn – Hoyland

    Really quite happy with what we can have for next season, Quality for when internationals are away is good bar Hooker where i would look to sign someone like Jake Kerr from Leicester Tigers (replace Cherry or Willemse)

    At lock i think We are missing a bit of quality although depth is fantastic, i think a star signing here could really push Toolis & Gilchrist on, in my mind i dream Skinner although it would a challenge to pull him away from such an accomplished club.
    Perhaps Alex Craig from Gloucester could do well.
    Remove Mckenzie, possibly one other (not Carmichael)

    Backrow is pure class, no signings needed, i would remove Barclay as i think that would free up a lot of budget, Keep Smith on as he showed potential at Glasgow.

    Happy with the backline. Perhaps Duncan Taylor for versatility would be useful during International windows but not necessary.

  6. Looks like Maitland and Taylor will be leaving Saracens. Does anyone fancy them at one of the Scottish clubs?

  7. Rumour is they were offered to SRU for a combine cost of about £600k (if memory serves the 30 year old Taylor was £350k of that). They are clearly on good money at Sarries and if I were them would only leave if my deal remains the same.

    1. Maitland will be snapped up by someone – a genuine international back 3 player. Taylor was imo a real quality player pre injury, but the jury is out about his fitness, and he’d be a gamble.
      But it’s a buyers market for Sarries players, and if £600k is right, it looks like Wray’s figures aren’t being counted properly again.

    2. Another scottish rugby podcast (which has a mole in the SRU) said £550000 for Maitland and 350000 for Taylor. Makes sense for Maitland to be more expensive than Taylor.

  8. It’s not a buyers market if players dont agree to go. The players have contracts and if Im either of those on £300k Im not offering to go anywhere else without my deal being matched. Sarries would need to terminate the contract and pay severance or the player would need to agree. Why do you think there hasnt been more outgoings? Noone is going to match those deals and if you are in your 30’s why would you go for less?

  9. I’m hearing from a reliable source that Edinburgh aren’t renewing Matt Scott’s contract because they’ve no budget left…..their most effective ball-carrying and line-breaking centre by far this season…crazy.

    1. With my first post on the Edinburgh Gunners forum – called it!

      Really hope I’m wrong though, and this doesn’t happen. He’s been absolutely integral to our attack this season.

  10. If true, Edinburgh think a lot of George Taylor. Rationale may be age ; history of injuries ; George Taylor ; no £…. maybe Dodson should take a pay cut??
    Scott has been superb this season.

    1. Dodson should absolutely take a pay cut.

      Scott’s been exceptional, and Edinburgh’s best back after Duhan.

      Taylor’s been good in all his appearances. Of all Edinburgh’s centres, the one he’s closest to (at least in terms of how we’ve used him) is Scott.

      Chris Dean has captained Edinburgh before, too.

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