DARCY Graham will start for Edinburgh in their Challenge Cup game against Wasps at Murrayfield on Friday, having recovered from the quad strain that has kept him out of action since the World Cup. However, WP Nel, the only other Edinburgh player yet to make an appearance since Japan, will be sidelined for another week.
“Darcy will start on Friday,” head coach Richard Cockerill said earlier today (Tuesday). “[WP] won’t play this week: he’s training fully this week and he’ll be available for next weekend.”
Stuart McInally and Hamish Watson both made their post-tournament return to action last week in Edinburgh’s PRO14 win in Munster, and both are likely to start along with Graham against Wasps.
The Coventry-based club are tenth in the English Premiership after winning just one out of their first five games, and lost their first Challenge Cup match to Bordeaux before beating Agen. But despite that modest record, Cockerill, whose team top Pool Three, level with Bordeaux and two points clear of Wasps, expects a difficult encounter on Friday.
“They’ve been to a final in recent years,” the coach said, referring to their being Premiership runners-up in 2017. “They’re a big European club, they’ve won Europe, they’ve been English champions.
“The market-place for players is hard, but they’ve got some very special players. They’ve got three All Blacks in their back line, they’ve got a Springbok, they’ve got England internationals, so they’ve got some very good players. The Premiership is an unforgiving place – even after five games you can be under pressure. We know they have a lot of threat, we know they’ve got a lot of good players. Clearly they’ve not started the season the way they would have liked and they’ve got a few injury issues, but that’s part and parcel of the game, we’ve all got a few of those.
“Look, they’re a good team but we know that if we put our best game on the field we’re more than compete with them. But if we’re sloppy and inaccurate then they’ve got an All Black in the centre, they’ve got an All Black at 10 and they’ve got Jimmy Gopperth, a former All Black, playing at 12.
“So they’ve got some real quality there. We need to be on it.”