Bill Mata faces lengthy spell on sidelines

Jordan Venter leaves club to join Bath on permanent contract

Bill Mata
Bill Mata injured a knee in Edinburgh's win against Benetton last week. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

EDINBURGH are expected to make an announcement today about the severity of the knee injury which forced Bill Mata out of last week’s win over Benetton. Yesterday Mike Blair would only confirm that the Fijian No 8 will miss Saturday’s match at Saracens and the ensuing double-header against Glasgow, but there is a distinct possibility that Mata will be sidelined for considerably longer.

“Not the best of news,” the head coach said of the injury to the 30-year-old forward. “With his Fijian blood line hopefully it’s an injury that will heal up nice and quickly, but it wasn’t looking good.

“It’s his knee. We had a five-metre scrum and he picked up and just got caught at an awkward angle. Nothing malicious. 

“It’s a big blow for Bill himself. It’s a big blow for the club. 

“But it gives other guys the chance. We’re pretty fortunate with the coverage we’ve got in the back row, so we’ll give another player an opportunity to grasp that jersey.”


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Magnus Bradbury looks set to take over at No 8 in the Challenge Cup match against Saracens, and is likely to be joined in the back-row by Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson. Luke Crosbie, Nick Haining, Ben Muncaster and Connor Boyle are the other back-row players who could come into contention for a place in the matchday 23. 

“The back row that started against the Dragons – Luke, Maggie and Nick – did well, and Ben and Connor did well off the bench,” Blair continued. “Maggie has been excellent the last couple of weeks. He has that bit of confidence in his game and from a conditioning point of view this is the best shape he has been in his career and getting better.”

Damien Hoyland will also miss the Saracens game and the 1872 Cup double-header against the Warriors after he too injured a knee in Friday night’s URC win over the Italians. His place on the wing could go to Ramiro Moyano, who would likely be combining in the back three  his fellow-Argentina international Emiliano Boffelli. Darcy Graham, a try-scorer against Benetton and one of the team’s most impressive performers in that match, is set to continue on the other wing.

Blair Kinghorn, meanwhile, is making good progress after going off with a head injury in the second half against the team from Treviso and could come into contention for Saturday. If Kinghorn fails to complete his return-to-play protocols,  he will be replaced by either Jaco van der Walt, who has resumed training after injury, or Charlie Savala, who has provided back-up at 10 in recent games. 

He’s going through the protocols and we’ll see over the next couple of days,” the coach said of Kinghorn. “Fingers crossed for him. At the same time Jaco is back and available this week, and Charlie has been excellent in training and games. We’re hopeful for Blair, but if he doesn’t make it we have a couple of guys there.”

Meanwhile, centre Jordan Venter has left Edinburgh with immediate effect to join Bath. Big things were expected of the 19-year-old South African centre when he moved to Edinburgh a year ago from his own country, but he did not make any competitive appearances for the team.

“Jordan is a hard-working player with a great attitude, but given the current competition for places in the centre, and Jordan’s ambitions for more game time, we felt it was the right time for him to move on and test himself in another playing environment,” Blair said. “We wish him the very best moving forward and thank him for his commitment to the jersey during his time in Edinburgh.”


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About Stuart Bathgate 1131 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting one that Jordan Venter has moved on to Bath. It was always a big ask for an 18 year old to come to Scotland for 5 years, in the hope he might qualify for Scotland. The fact he has moved on, either suggests, he wasn’t quite as good as our scouting suggested, and we decided to let him go. (He won’t qualify now for Scotland without 5 continuous years living in Scotland) Or, that the opportunities in Edinburgh weren’t quite coming at the pace he had hoped they would and he felt he could make more progress elsewhere. I doubt if the sums involved were earth-shattering, so I don’t think the financial loss will be that significant, but the fact that both Conor De Bruyn (last year at Glasgow, now back in South Africa) and now Jordan Venter have moved on, at least raises the question of whether the money invested to bring them to Scotland at such a young age, could have been better invested in a Duncan Munn or a Thomas Glendinning, and whether it is wiser for International scouts to wait until players are at a more mature age, as per Nathan McBeth Schoeman, or Kebble, before we tempt them away from family and familiarity with the prospect of a career in Scotland

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    • Schoeman and Kebble qualified before the residency eligibility was extended to 5 years, so it is much less likely we’ll have those kind of project players again. Conor du Bruyn can still pursue test honours with Scotland as he wasn’t a project player but is SQ.

      So the question is do we scout young players as project players or not? I think it depends on the investment involved tbh and I don’t know. Every pound spent though has an opportunity cost and it must be increasingly important to invest in our own grass roots systems. That should be our number 1 priority.

      Given changes to eligibility for dual qualified players, it is probably more fruitful for Scotland to search family trees of ABs and Aussies with a handful of caps, than trying to pluck aspiring youngsters who’ve passed through other countries nets.

      I have no idea if Venter is going to be test class or not, but with players of that age who aren’t appearing for the first country of choice, I feel you have to invest in a lot of candidates before one makes it big.

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