JUST days after signing Scotland captain John Barclay and agreeing extended deals with Ben Toolis and Stuart McInally, Edinburgh have announced two more recruits. Simon Hickey, the 23-year-old former Blues stand-off, will join from Bordeaux Begles at the end of the season, while tighthead prop Elliot Millar-Mills has joined from Yorkshire Carnegie for the rest of the season.
Born in Auckland, Hickey was captain of the New Zealand Under-20s team at the 2014 Junior World Championship, and played for the Blues in 2014-15 before moving to Bordeaux. He has signed a two-year contract with Edinburgh, and, while Richard Cockerill is offering no guarantees of a starting place, looks set to be a key player next season as the head coach aims to build a team capable of competing towards the top of the PRO14.
“After meeting with Richard Cockerill, and seeing the club’s recent results, I had no hesitation about joining Edinburgh,” Hickey said. “I’m really excited about the prospect of playing for the club, especially as they’re looking to play an exciting brand of rugby which will suit my style of play.
“Edinburgh is a team on the rise, and I have no doubt that they’re headed in a successful direction under Richard Cockerill and the rest of the coaching staff. I look forward to linking up with my future team-mates next season, settling into what is a wonderful city and hopefully playing a part in the club’s future success.”
At present Jason Tovey and Duncan Weir fight it out for the No 10 jersey, and rather than discuss where Hickey might fit into the pecking order, Cockerill simply suggested the squad would be enriched by the signing of the New Zealander.
“Simon is a creative young playmaker that already has a lot of experience playing in Super Rugby and the Top 14,” he said. “We’re developing some real competition at 10 and I believe he will be a strong addition to an exciting Edinburgh backline. I’m delighted that, having seen the culture and environment we’re building here at Edinburgh, he’s chosen to join the club for the next two years.”
Millar-Mills, 25, has been brought in to provide cover after first-choice No 3 Willem Nel broke his arm playing for Scotland against Samoa. He is already in South Africa with the Edinburgh squad as they prepare for Friday night’s PRO14 match against the Cheetahs. He is Scottish qualified as his mother was born in Hamilton, and his sisters, Bridget and Harriet, have already been capped by Scotland and England respectively.
“I’m really excited to join at such a crucial time for the club – there are some really big games over the coming weeks,” he said. “I’m learning a lot from Richard Cockerill, [assistant coach] Roddy Grant and the other players, so for now I’m just soaking up as much as I can and working hard in training to try and earn a spot in this team.”
It remains to be seen if Cockerill decides he wants to extend Millar-Mills’s time with the team beyond the summer, but for the moment the coach is simply happy to have back-up in such an important position. “Elliot is a good young player and will provide cover in the front row for the rest of the season,” he added. “I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on in the months ahead.”