Edinburgh v Bulls: Ali Price and Jamie Ritchie available for selection

On-loan scrum-half has now trained with his new team-mates, while Scotland captain is fit again after a shoulder injury

Jamie Ritchie
Jamie Ritchie could make his Edinburgh return on Friday alongside new boy Ali Price. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

ALI PRICE trained with Edinburgh for the first time yesterday and is now in line to make his debut in Friday night’s home game against the Bulls. Jamie Ritchie could also return for the capital team in the match against the URC leaders after being out of action since the World Cup with a shoulder injury.

Price’s surprise season-long move from Glasgow, announced last week, is designed to ensure that he and the other home-based contenders for the Scotland No 9 jersey such as the Warriors’ George Horne and Jamie Dobie get adequate game time before the Six Nations. More immediately, it will also benefit Edinburgh by ensuring heightened internal competition, according to assistant coach Stevie Lawrie

“Ali started training today and will be available for selection,” Lawrie confirmed this Monday] afternoon. “He’s hit the ground running – he’s really good with his detail, and the boys are excited to have him.

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“All I can say is the way he has approached it has been excellent. Obviously today is a bit of a learning day. His clarity has been good and he’s brought a really good energy already to training, and so have the other 9s as well.

“I didn’t know much of him [beforehand] – other than how well he can play against us. He’s certainly somebody that’s going to bring a lot of quality and a good bit of competition as well. It’s an area where we want to grow our quality, and if we can have competition in our squad that’s only going to be great for everybody. It raises the level at training and it means that when you play you need to perform well.

“Jamie is available for selection as well,” Lawrie added. “He’s training really well. He’s done all his return stuff.” 

Ritchie’s fellow back-row forward Luke Crosbie, who missed last Friday’s win over Connacht because of concussion, could also be fit to play against the Bulls. But Darcy Graham and Hamish Watson are among those still sidelined.

Like Edinburgh, Friday’s South African opponents have won three of their first four games, but are three points clear of the Scots side thanks to picking up three bonus points. “They’ll be a massive challenge physically,” Lawrie said. “You know exactly what they’re going to build with. They’ll bring that power game. I think they’ve gone back to that a little bit more this season.

Wilco Louw [the prop who joined from Harlequins in the close season] has made a difference in terms of how they’ve scrummaged but we’ve also had some positive scrummaging displays, so that’s going to be a key area.

“I think also, the battle of the gainline. They’re a momentum-based team and we need to make sure that we’re physically appropriate in that area, for want of a better phrase. 

“We’re excited about the challenge, really excited to get out there, have another game at the Hive and bring the energy we did at the weekend, and look to get better, because it wasn’t a perfect performance. There’s plenty stuff we need to work on and we want to build on where we were.”

URC: dramatic finale gives Edinburgh victory over Connacht

About Stuart Bathgate 1363 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.