Cammy Fenton has the opportunity to stake a claim to be in the mix at hooker for Edinburgh in the future when he makes his first start this season in the European Challenge Cup against Stade Francais in Paris.
The 22-year-old Howe of Fife and Strathallan School product was called up to the Edinburgh squad by Richard Cockerill from club rugby earlier this season and the head coach has been giving him opportunities off the bench until now.
However the head coach wants to test the former Scotland Under-20 player from the start with Stuart McInally rested after Edinburgh beat Stade last week to nail down a home quarter-final, with a view to the near future.
“Stuart has done very well but Fenton is only 22 and has played at age-group for Scotland, and I want to see how he goes,” said Cockerill.
“Ross Ford is injured but he is also 34, Neil Cochrane is also 34, so I have to have one eye on the future around young hookers coming through and he is one of them.
“It is an opportunity in a game that is not critical for us where he can play and we can see where he is at. Look, he is a good player, he has played well when he has come off the bench and he gets a great opportunity this weekend.”
Cockerill has made plenty of changes and his team will face a full-strength Stade team gunning for a quarter-final place themselves. Last year they trailed Edinburgh in the pool and qualified as a second placed team, but went on to win the tournament.
“We just decided to look after a few guys who have played a fair bit and given opportunities to others,” said Cockerill. “Lewis Carmichael and Fraser McKenzie need to play so we can see where they are at.
“Darcy Graham has done really well and this is a good opportunity to expose him at full back at a different level. It will be interesting to see how he goes
“We have to make sure we develop the squad and the only way to do that is to give guys opportunities. This is a real opportunity in a big game. We are still going there to win, we just have the luxury that we are already qualified.
“If Stade win with a bonus point they will have a chance of qualifying so they have picked a strong side. These are probably the only two games (in the pool) Stade have taken seriously, which shows respect from them to us, which is good.”
Edinburgh’s prop issues mean that Murray McCallum, called up to the Scotland squad this week, may see service on both sides of the scrum but it’s all part of his continuing development.
“Murray is working hard at his game, he did well last weekend,” continued Cockerill. “He is still young and inexperienced, he is doing a good job for 40-50 minutes and then gets a bit fatigued and then it becomes a bit harder for him.
“Playing longer and longer, and getting more experience and getting used to the fatigue of playing at tighthead in particular is good for him.
“He may get an opportunity in that first game in the 6 Nations because of circumstances and if he does then he is good enough to hold his own.
“He is probably not ready for international rugby yet but he may get the opportunity, and if that is 20 to 25 minutes off the bench in Cardiff, then I think he will do a good job.”
Edinburgh (vs Stade Francais, European Challenge Cup, Stade Jean Bouin, ko 8pm (GMT), live on BT Sport): Darcy Graham; Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett, Junior Rasolea, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles; Rory Sutherland, Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum; Fraser McKenzie (capt), Lewis Carmichael; Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Cornell du Preez. Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Kevin Bryce, Matt Shields, Grant Gilchrist, Viliame Mata, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, James Johnstone, Dougie Fife.