Three weeks in a row against teams who haven’t won a game this season can only be helpful to build a winning mentality, but Edinburgh will try without star centre Matt Scott at BT Murrayfield tonight.
Winless Benetton Treviso are the visitors in the Guinness PRO12 on the back of the capital club’s home and away wins against Europe’s other club in top flight rugby without a victory, London Welsh, in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
It’s been the ideal time for head coach Alan Solomons to build his strength in depth but he’s disappointed that tonight’s team will be missing Scotland centre Matt Scott, who strained a hip flexor in last week’s game in Oxford.
Scott had just returned from a shoulder surgery absence and was warming himself back into form, but hopefully it’ll just be a one week absence.
“He could end up exacerbating the injury and being out three to four weeks and that would be crazy,” said the head coach. “It’s a pity because he was starting to get a run of games and to hit his straps.
“If he plays we take risk, if he rests he’s probably back ready to play next week. We do have an eye on the first 1872 Cup game but genuinely if we’d been playing anyone next week this would have been the prudent course of action.”
The other aspect is that because their second win over Welsh continuing a four-from-four pool campaign so far in the Challenge Cup was just on Sunday.
“A five day turnaround is tough, we flew back Sunday night so the guys could be in their own beds but we play Friday so Matt doesn’t get that extra two days to recover.”
There is good news for Solomons in that David Denton is fit to return and Alasdair Dickinson plays for the first time since the Autumn Tests, and the coach thinks he’s probably got his strongest side out since the start of the season.
“We’ve only got about six frontline guys out now, which shows how bad our run of ill-fortune has been,” he continued. “Despite the injury list I think we have a really competitive team out in this game.”
Treviso may have lost every match bar their draw with champions Leinster, but Solomons preaches caution to those who look at this fixture as a home banker.
“They’re a physical side with a lot of big men, and if you look at it many of their losses have been
within 10 to 12 points. Like London Welsh, they’re going to win a game sometime.”
Sam Beard replaces Scott, Dickinson comes in for Rory Sutherland, Denton’s return allows the coaching team to give Tomas Leonardi some rest, meaning skipper Mike Coman shifts to blindside flanker.
The club are still waiting on key man Ross Ford, who is nursing a stiff back.
“The medics have said Fordy is not right for this week, and we’ll see for next week,” continued Solomons. “You have to be extra careful with props and hookers and we’ll see how he is Monday before the we think about him for the first leg of the 1872 Cup.”
Edinburgh (vs Benetton Treviso, Guinness PRO12, BT Murrayfield, tonight, ko 7.35 pm)
Jack Cuthbert; Dougie Fife, Sam Beard, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser; Greig Tonks, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Alasdair Dickinson, Neil Cochrane, John Andress; Anton Bresler, Ben Toolis; Mike Coman (capt), Roddy Grant, David Denton.
Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Grant Shiells, Willem Nel, Fraser McKenzie, Stuart McInally, Grayson Hart, Tom Heathcote, Joaquin Dominguez.