EDINBURGH RUGBY: Hidalgo-Clyne handed first start
Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons has handed 20-year-old scrum-half Sam Hidlago-Clyne his first start against Scarlets at Murrayfield Stadium tomorrow night (Friday 27 September, kick-off 7.45pm).
The former Merchiston Castle School pupil and Scotland age-grade internationalist is the latest protégé to come through the elite development programme (EDP), which has cultivated the player in parallel with his club side, Heriot’s, in the RBS Premiership.
Edinburgh and Scottish Rugby sought to accelerate his development in the summer on the Macphail scholarship, where he spent 13 weeks immersed in the New Zealand rugby culture with Burnside RFC and the Canterbury RFU high performance unit, before returning to the club last month.
With captain Greig Laidlaw out injured (knee), Hidalgo-Clyne has forced his way on to the bench in every match so far this season, with 22-year-old Sean Kennedy – another product of the EDP programme and club Stirling County – getting the nod to start until today.
Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Alan Solomons, got his first sight of Hidalgo-Clyne on the club’s pre-season camp at Loughborough University, and has been impressed with his contribution so far.
He said: “We’re quite fortunate in that, despite losing a key international player, we have two very talented young Scottish scrum-halves in Sam [Hidalgo-Clyne] and Sean [Kennedy], who are pushing each other very hard for the chance to start each week.
“Sam now deservedly gets this opportunity after five appearances off the bench.
“They’re both still very young but are in excellent condition and show a lot of promise, which is great news for the club.”
Hidalgo-Clyne’s selection is one of four personnel changes to the backline, with centre Ben Atiga returning in place of the injured Dougie Fife (head knock).
Lee Jones starts in place of injured wing Tim Visser (head knock), while fellow Scotland internationalist, Jack Cuthbert, is selected in place of Nikki Walker.
The return of rotated front-row forwards Ross Ford (hooker) and Willem Nel (prop) are the only changes to the pack, while Argentine trialist Joaquin Dominguez could make his debut if called upon from the bench.
Looking ahead to tomorrow night’s contest, Solomons added: “Scarlets are another consistently impressive Welsh side, so will present another big challenge tomorrow night.
“Like us, they haven’t had the kind of start they would have wanted and, having won in Edinburgh last year, will look at this match as an opportunity to put their campaign back on track.
“It’s up us to front up to that challenge. We’re playing at home in front of our own fans, so it’s important that we go out there and deliver a vastly improved performance.”
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Scarlets this Friday (27 September) in round four of the RaboDirect PRO12 (kick-off 7.45pm)
15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford (captain), 3 Willem Nel, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5
Izak van der Westhuizen, 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Roddy Grant, 8 David Denton. Substitutes: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17
18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Joaquin Dominguez, 23 Michael Tait