SUMMER signing Ruan Steenkamp goes straight into the Edinburgh starting line-up for tomorrow’s home friendly against Ospreys, a week after joining from the Bulls in South Africa. The openside takes his place in the pack behind Lewis Carmichael, who will be playing his first game in more than a year, and assistant forwards coach Stevie Lawrie is looking forward to seeing both men in action in this second and last warm-up game before the PRO14 season starts at the end of the month.
“Ruan’s a consummate professional and he’s added a lot of value in the week and a half that he’s been here,” Lawrie said. “He’s obviously got a lot of experience from the Bulls, which is great. He’s bringing that in and he speaks very well. He’s got one gear at training – 100 miles an hour – which is good for an openside. I’m excited to see him play tomorrow.
“I’m chuffed for Lewis too. He can cover that 6/4 position, he’s a lineout leader, and he’s a really good rugby player. I’m excited to get him back in there, not only for his lineout stuff, but also for the way he’s developed his open-field play. He’ll bring that edge in the loose.”
Having beaten London Scottish comfortably in their one outing to date, Edinburgh expect a tougher, more structured game against their Welsh opponents this afternoon. “We want to show our attacking threat,” Lawrie added. “We want to show what we’ve worked hard on and how we’re advancing parts of our game, but equally, if there’s points on offer tomorrow it’s down to the on-field management to decide what we do.
“We want it to be a pretty robust, physical game, and we know that Ospreys will bring that as well. They’re a quality side, so we’ll be ready for that tomorrow.”
There is always an experimental element to pre-season games, and the fact that Edinburgh have named 19 substitutes suggests there will be a lot of chopping and changing. But the starting pack probably includes at least half a dozen who will be frontline picks during the World Cup, and the back division that will begin the game has a very solid and experienced look to it.
“To have guys like Jaco van der Walt in there, and Nic Groom, who captains the side from the start, adds tempo to our attack. And I’m excited by our midfield as well, because Matt Scott and Mark Bennett have got a lot of caps between them, and Chris Dean and James Johnstone have played a lot of rugby as well. There’s a lot of quality in that midfield.”
Two summer signings, Michael Willemse and Mesu Kunavula, are on an injury list which also includes Jack Blain, Dougie Fife, Ross McCann, Rory Sutherland and Dan Winning.
Edinburgh (v Ospreys at BT Murrayfield, Saturday 3pm): Damien Hoyland; Jamie Farndale, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Nic Groom; Pierre Schoeman, David Cherry, Pietro Ceccarelli, Murray Douglas, Lewis Carmichael, Luke Crosbie, Ruan Steenkamp, Nick Haining. Substitutes: Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum, Jack Stanley, Cameron Fenton, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Fraser McKenzie, Rory Darge, Connor Boyle, Ally Miller, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, Jason Baggott, George Taylor, Chris Dean, James Johnstone, Sam Pecqueur, Tom Brown.