Michael Todd expects big step up from Edinburgh against the Bulls

New defence coach believes there is room for improvement in the contact area when his team take on the South African side on Saturday

Edimnburgh Dragons
Edinburgh only got on top of the Dragons in their URC clash after a spell of being on the back foot. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson.

EDINBURGH scored seven tries and conceded none in their 44-6 win over the Dragons last weekend, but new defence coach Michael Todd is still convinced that a big improvement will be needed if they are to get the better of the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.

Todd, who took over from Calum MacRae in the summer, is particularly concerned about the contact area. It took Edinburgh a while to subdue their Welsh opponents, and he knows that the Bulls are very likely to constitute a more formidable physical challenge.

 “I think the contact area has to improve massively,” he said. “It’s going to be a very physical game. 

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“We probably can’t match their size kg for kg. But technically we need to be better and we can match them in that area. 

You can be the biggest team and not pitch up on the day and the smaller, agile team could take you for a run. So I definitely think attitude is everything. At this level you’ve got to be up for it every week. You’ve got to prepare well and look after yourself well just to be able to put out your best performance.”

Edinburgh’s morale received a significant boost last season when they defeated the Sharks to become the first European team in the URC to record a victory in South Africa, and Todd believes that a win this weekend would have the same effect.

“It would be a big milestone for us,” he added. “I know how hard it is to come here and win, so for us it would be a massive boost.”

Edinburgh have taken a squad of 34 to South Africa for their matches this weekend and next, including Hamish Watson and Grant Gilchrist, neither of whom took part in the match against the Dragons.

Edinburgh squad (for matches in South Africa v the Bulls and Stormers):

Backs: Mark Bennett, Jack Blain, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Henry Immelman, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang, Harry Paterson, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, Ben Vellacott.

Forwards: Lee-Roy Atalifo, Nick Auterac, Dave Cherry, Luke Crosbie, Luan de Bruin Grant Gilchrist (co-captain), Nick Haining, Viliame Mata, Adam McBurney, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Ritchie (co-captain), Pierre Schoeman, Sam Skinner, Marshall Sykes, Boan Venter, Hamish Watson, Glen Young.

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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.