Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Heineken Champions Cup Preview: Sale Sharks v Edinburgh

Edinburgh have made six changes to the side which lost out agonisingly to La Rochelle last week, as they head down to Greater Manchester to face Sale in what is already a must-win game if they have notions of continuing in this season’s abridged Champions Cup.

Stuart McInally returns to the starting line-up and will once again be designated as captain as he makes his 150th appearance in the Edinburgh jersey. He’ll pack down alongside Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan, who swap their seats on last week’s bench with Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel respectively for this week’s tussle.

With Andrew Davidson joining the list of locks unavailable to injury, Ben Toolis will be partnered in the second-row by Jamie Hodgson, and rest protocols dictate that Jamie Ritchie is due a rest so his place in the back-row is taken over by Magnus Bradbury.

Charlie Shiel gets an opportunity to see how he can fare against World Cup-winning Faf de Klerk with Henry Pyrgos also rested, but Shiel will at least have the steadying hand of Jaco van der Walt to see him through the game.

“It’s massive for him, what a great opportunity. Faf’s an excellent player, but we recognise that Charlie has a lot of the same characteristics that Faf has.” said Edinburgh coach Steve Lawrie of Shiel’s selection.

“In terms of his ability to speed up a game and his running threat. If you look at Faf, that’s probably one of his biggest strengths, along with his toughness. ‘So it’s a massive opportunity for Charlie. He’s a stage now where he’s played a good bit of rugby for us, whether that be off the bench or the couple of starts that he’s got.”

Another hot-prospect benefiting from the resting of a more senior player is Jack Blain, who wears the number 14 jersey in place of Darcy Graham, with Blair Kinghorn and Duhan van der Merwe completing the outside back trio.

Chris Dean starts at inside centre to ring up his 100th cap for Edinburgh, and the local lad was understandably delighted at the prospect of joining some illustrious names in the Centurions Club.

“It’s extremely exciting. It was always a goal. When you see the names up on the board in the team room when you first join, it was something I felt was unrealistic at the time , or a long way away, but it’s crept up. To be able to be a centurion for the club I grew up supporting and the only one I have ever played for is something pretty special and not an achievement I’m taking for granted.

“The likes of Simon Taylor, Simon Webster and Mike Blair are the kind of guys I remember absolutely adoring growing up. And then also the guys I’m playing alongside now, like Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist, Cornell du Preez, Hamish Watson – you’re certainly on a board with a lot of fantastic names, so to be up there alongside them is pretty cool. It’s a massive privilege because when I set my career goals out one of them was to be a club centurion.”

Even accounting for Steve Diamond’s departure, Sale’s game-plan could be assumed by looking at their player roster, and Lawrie sees no reason to expect much change.

“Paul Deacon was obviously coaching there before, so it’s not like they’ve changed their coaching group massively.

“I would expect them to be doing more of the same. They’ve got a combative style with the personnel they’ve got.

“With the South Africans in their team, they want to play that physical, on-the-gain-line type of game.

“We know their style and we’ve previewed them well. They will look to play in the appropriate areas and they’ve got a pretty set structure as well. We’re ready for the challenge.

“They’re fairly pragmatic in terms of how they exit from their own half. They’ll look at quick taps through Faf to try and get the game going. You’ve got to be aware of that.

“They are very much a big abrasive team when they get into the right areas. They’re quite happy to play a little bit of chess first to get into those areas.”

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Jack Blain, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean,
Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Charlie Shiel;
Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis,
Jamie Hodgson, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata
Replacements: David Cherry, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel,
Andries Ferreira, Luke Crosbie, Nic Groom, Nathan Chamberlain,
James Johnstone

30 Responses

  1. “Jamie Ritchie is due a rest so his place in the back-row is taken over by Jamie Ritchie.”

    Ah the SRU have perfected player cloning. Things all make a lot more sense now. Who needs Hastings when we have a clone Hastings ready to be announced.

  2. Watching Leinster demolishing Northampton. I just don’t get how those guys are so much stronger than everyone else. Do you think they got their S&C right over lockdown and eveyone sat homes eating pies?

      1. Have not seen any rumours. I saw some interviews with Adam Hastings talking about how the Glasgow gym was stripped and they were just doing Watt bike trading for 3/4 months. Ireland’s first lockdown ended earlier than that of the UK. There is potential for a longer prep time- I wonder if we are seeing some of this now.

  3. No energy, slow ball, Charlie Shiel ensures really slow ball. Absolutely rubbish. What has happened to all our teams, from having an abundance of quality centres, we now have none that would be used i any other six nations side. Forwards are soft and the backs are clueless, stand by for another twenty years in the wilderness!!

    1. The Northampton game had a great pair of Centres . One already capped and one , in the England Squad.

  4. Good comeback from Edinburgh although they were helped by a Sale team that wilted. Mish was superb. Mata needs to stop calling Just Eat & Deliveroo and get himself fit.

      1. Cherry looked good, and a much safer option than that end of the game error machine Willlemse.

  5. bit off topic but out of interest does anyone know any of the detail around how Scarlets were able to field a team for the Toulon game?

  6. The Northampton game had a great pair of Centres . One already capped and one , in the England Squad.

  7. Mabey starting to see a turnaround from Edinburgh, very narrow loss against a La Rochelle side top of the french league and now a win against the best Sale side in 10 years.

    Can’t help but feel Edinburgh still are not playing close to there best ability yet despite this, the team just needs some continuity with each other i guess after much disruption with Scotland

  8. Managed to watch the last 30 minutes.
    Poite really didn’t seem to want to rule a forward pass for that disallowed Sale try. Credit to the TMO for her persistence.
    The ‘no force’ used to nearly knock Hamish’s block off made me wonder what Poite considers ‘force’ actually is. It was nasty, deliberate and dangerous and deserved a red imo.

    Good comeback from Edinburgh, a small beam of sunlight in an otherwise bleak weekend for the whole UK.

    1. Poite has lost it…last few games I’ve seen he looks a nervous wreck on the pitch. Some time off required.

      1. Totally agree on Poite, and on the determination of the video ref to make sure that sanity prevailed.

        As well as the “no force” shoulder charge to the head from the biggest guy on the pitch, and the reluctance to rule that offload forward there was also the try he awarded them in the first half. It went from 3 metres outside the 22 to 3 metres inside and I don’t think there was any clear evidence to suggest that it went backwards from the hand.

        It seemed as though he was taking every measure he could to rule the big decisions in Sale’s favour, if he could justify it.

  9. Congrats to Edinburgh on literally the ugliest win I’ve seen in years.

    They still look a decent team but with low confidence, not fully fit, and far too many bad decisions and basic errors…i.e. rusty as hell.

    Assuming we have any games at all coming up, hopefully they can iron those out.

  10. Glasgow in talks with Weir to bring him back to Glasgow from Worcester …… another old boy coming back to see out their career!!!! Where is the future foresight in Scotland?

    1. Weir will be a great addition to Glasgow in that he’s a steady 10 and we’ll not lose him to internationals (bar another injury crisis).

      However it goes against the style of play that Glasgow have been generating over the past 5/6 seasons. It also feels like a missed opportunity to sign Healy from Munster though if he’s an Irish lad through and through he’s maybe holding on for a couple more seasons before he pins his colours elsewhere.

      The constant departures from G & E are going to make them difficult to gain more supporters. The revolving door of decent players (and I hear rumours VDM, Mata and Watson are joining the list) puts a glass ceiling on both clubs. The only way I could see either flourishing would be a private investor to purchase and get them out of the SRU stranglehold but the odds of that happening are similar to the odds of 5 Scots starting for the lions in the first test!

      1. The SRU have been trying to bring in private investment for years. It ain’t happening.

        Weir is a good move – Healy is a long shot and Glasgow need to add two FHs so they certainly aren’t mutually exclusive. Either way they can’t put all their eggs in one basket and be left in crisis mode next season.

        Top earners at Edinburgh and Glasgow moving on is just a fact of life I’m afraid – we can’t compete with the money in french and English rugby and players need to move on to bring through the next generation.

      2. If DW does return to Glasgow to be first choice 10 it just underlines the lack of ambition and down trading that has become a hall mark of the Glasgow’s decline. He’s solid, steady, always gives 100% and good kicking game, and decent ability but he’s not going to get better than he is right now. he’s not going to move the team forward, he’s an anchor point and nothing more. if he’s got good players around him then he will not let anyone down but he’s not a match winner. I really hope Glasgow are looking at Healy and Weir as a combination not that Weir is a signal than the Healy thing won’t happen. I suspect that he will go instead of Healy which just shows that the future for glasgow is a mid conference challenge cup team.

      3. Bhatti joins the list and moves to Bath! Hope it works out for him as I feel he has potential.

        I appreciate that private investment isn’t going to happen but without it we either support a team with a golden young generation that haven’t been picked up yet and have a chance of silverware (eg Russel and Hogg’s Glasgow) or we are cheering on a team to finish mid table. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation as without success you don’t get more supporters and without more supporters you don’t get more cash. All pretty depressing and not the way to grow the sport.

      4. Hello. I wonder why the SRU cannot attract Private Investment? I would not put a single penny of my money near them. Businesses need share holder confidence.

      5. We are not investable and the SRU do not appear to have that as a gaol IMO. Out the RWC first round, No longer tier 2 qualification status, it could be 8 years before we are back based on world ranking assuming we can maintain progress with the compromises we are making. Good investable organisations understand their selling points coach with a strong world wide reputation is a huge statement and attraction.

  11. I hope it works out for Bhatti, he probably shouldn’t have left Glasgow, another of Rennie’s poor decisions. He was the best loosehead in the country before the dreaded scotland world cup training camp which destroyed the form of all our props. I always felt with Bhatti that idle time was his enemy never came back from summer in good form but once he gets match fit he’s a quality player. hope he gets a decent chuck of game time at Bath.

  12. I’m not going to complain about Glasgow signing a very competent 10 who will likely be available all season from when he joins, has potential to last another 2-4 seasons throughout Danny Wilsons tenure.

    I will be complaining if we do no have another young 10 coming up through the ranks to compete with him however wether that is Healy or some academy prospect I don’t care.

    What I don’t want however is for Weir to be sharing his time with Horne or Thomson. That is not an acceptable standard.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion