Edinburgh are in a “do or die” situation for the rest of the Guinness PRO12 season but head coach Alan Solomons believes this year the building blocks have been set for the club’s future.
The capital club face the tough task of beating Munster away for the second time in successive seasons tonight if they want to maintain a chance of a Top 6 finish and qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup, and are convinced they can take the race to the final week against Cardiff Blues at BT Murrayfield next week.
But Solomons believes the real progress this season has already been made in making so many young players regulars in his side in his overall aim to transition the team into a unit based on native players.
“We have young Scottish players coming through that are very ambitious,” said the veteran head coach. “And some have come on so much quicker than we expected.
“I was just saying to (forwards coach) Stevie Scott just this week, `can you believe Blair Kinghorn has played 19 games for us already?’. He’s still just 19 himself.
“Jamie Ritchie has become a regular this year. Chris Dean and Damien Hoyland have been regulars. Mags (Bradbury) has developed into a tremendous player.
“Our age profile has altered quite considerably in just the last two years. We want to get top six because playing in the main European competition is going to be the next stage of the development in our young players. But we’re already making progress.”
Edinburgh have brought back defensive specialist centre Andries Strauss for the visit to Cork, moving Matt Scott to outside centre, indicating the kind of game they expect against the Munstermen, who face the unthinkable prospect of no European competition if they falter in the last two weeks.
“It is do or die, but it’s been going like that for a while for both of us,” siad the coach.
“It’s a massive game. Munster will come out all guns blazing, they’re a very proud province. They’ll be very determined and physical.”
Scotland back rower John Hardie know sit’s going to be a tough shift for him, but he relishes the thought of a 15-20 tackle game.
“It would be good if I could only make nine and we could do a bit of attacking and score some more tries, but if it has to be done then it has to be done,” he said.
“You look at the table and how close it is, it is win or bust. To make the top six would be awesome and I think this is one of the most important games we’ve had this year.
“It brings a bit of edge to the game. There is a lot at stake for both teams, so we’re going to be up for it, we’re looking forward to it, and I’m sure they are as well.”
Namibian lock Anton Bresler will make his 50th appearance for the club tonight, with all but one of them being as a starter.
Edinburgh team: Blair Kinghorn; Damien Hoyland, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Sean Kennedy; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (capt), WP Nel; Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis; Jamie Ritchie, John Hardie, Cornell du Preez.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland, John Andress, Alex Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Chris Dean, Dougie Fife.