All change for stretched side as injuries back Solomons into a corner
FOR three years, consistency of selection has been one of the hallmarks of Alan Solomons as the Edinburgh head coach. That all changes this weekend against Munster when he makes seven changes in personnel plus one positional switch from the team that failed against Leinster last week.
Some of the changes are to rest players who are likely to see a lot of action at club and international level this season, others are forced on him by injuries that cost him both centres from last week’s game and Nathan Fowles at scrum half.
It is not all bad news, however. Damien Hoyland, fresh from making his first Scotland start in the summer, and Cornell du Peez, who has been recovering from clean-up surgery on the leg he broke a couple of years ago, are both able to make their first starts of the season.
The big gamble, however, comes in the front row where Kevin Bryce is handed his place after playing only 15 minutes off the bench in his new position of prop. Solomons said it would take him a long time to convert from hooker to tighthead, but with WP Nel rested and Simon Berghan injured he has no choice but to throw Bryce in at the deep end.
It will be a tough first start against David Kilcoyne, one of the strongest and most experienced scrummagers around, and since all evidence suggests Edinburgh need to win the forward battle to have a chance, the result of that battle should prove decisive.
“We are stretched, there is no doubt at the moment that injuries and unavailabilities are stretching us,” Solomons admitted. “Munster are always a good side, especially at Thomond Park. They have a couple of wins already and we are prepared for a tough test.
“We are up for a big test up front. The guys that are playing know there will be some challenges there, that is for sure.”
Munster did lose their last home game, a one-point defeat to Cardiff Blues, but have won both their away games. Back at their traditional stronghold, they are looking to re-establish their fortress mentality.
Against that, Edinburgh had some encouragement but more disappointment in their home defeat to Leinster, both defence and attack looking fragile when they needed to be strong.
“Very disappointing, massively disap- pointing,” said Solomons of the defence. “Obviously that has been addressed in the reviews and the practices and the players know what is expected of them, that is the key and they must do better this week.
“We also blew a number of chances [in attack]. We need to finish off the chances we create. We need to be clinical with our finishing.”
I Keatley; D Sweetnam, K Earls, C Bohane, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland (Capt); D O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander D Casey, J Cronin, S Archer, D Ryan, C Oliver, D Williams, D Goggin, A Wootton
G Bryce; D Hoyland, M Allen, C Dean, T Brown; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; R Sutherland, S McInally (Capt), K Bryce, F McKenzie, B Toolis, M Bradbury, H Watson, C Du Preez N Cochrane, J Cosgrove, A Dell, L Carmichael, J Hardie, S Kennedy, B Kinghorn, R Scholes
B Whitehouse (Wales)
Munster Edinburgh Referee Replacements Replacements
GAMBLE: Kevin Bryce will play at tighthead prop in his first start.