Neil Cochrane and Robbie Fruean among 16 players leaving Edinburgh

Brothers Kevin and Glenn Bryce also on their way out

Robbie Fruean, Duncan Weir and Jason Harries
Robbie Fruean, Duncan Weir and Jason Harries are all leaving the club this summer. Image: David Gibson / FotosportUk

EDINBURGH head coach Richard Cockerill has confirmed a 16-strong list of players who will leave the club during the summer, which includes the names of stalwart hooker Neil Cochrane (who is hanging up his boots to go into commercial building surveying) and last summer’s marquee signing Robbie Fruean.

The Sunday Times reported in December that Fruean had been advised to retire from the game for health reasons less than six months into his two-year deal with the club. The 29-year-old is believed to have suffered complications to a heart condition which had previously seen him undergo two open-heart surgeries and two further cardiac procedures.

Both Cockerill and Edinburgh have since refused to comment on Fruean’s situation with Cockerill stating at the time: “It’s a private matter for Robbie to deal with and when he’s ready to speak about it he will. I think it’s in pretty poor taste that it’s reported, to be fair. That’s all I’ve got to say on it at the moment.”

It is now clear that the powerful centre has indeed been forced to call time on his playing days, which is a great shame for a player who was considered one of the brightest prospects in New Zealand rugby when he led the ‘Baby Blacks’ to the Under-19 World Championship in 2007, before a bout of rheumatic fever later that year led to a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the heart.

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Fruean battled back from that illness and surgery to have a few good seasons playing Super Rugby with the Hurricanes and then the Crusaders, where he formed a formidable partnership with fellow centre Sonny Bill Williams. He moved to England to join Bath in 2016 and switched to Edinburgh the following year, but managed only five appearances in the first few months of his contract before his final game against Zebre on 6th October.

Meanwhile, Cockerill had already publicly acknowledged that Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Cornell du Preez, Duncan Weir, Jason Tovey, John Hardie and Junior Rasolea were heading towards the exit door, while it was reported by The Offside Line last month that Phil Burleigh would not be kept on after the end of this season.

Brothers Kevin and Glenn Bryce are on the list having struggled to make their mark this season under Cockerill.

Kevin, who converted from hooker to tighthead prop when he signed for Edinburgh from Glasgow Warriors on a two-year deal in 2016, has struggled to adapt to his new position and has not been helped by a series of injuries, which has restricted his game time. He managed only one start and ten appearances off the bench in two years at the club before heading off to Yorkshire Carnegie on loan in January.

Glenn, who can play full-back or wing, has appeared 31 times for the club during the same period, but has spent much of this season away with the Scotland 7s squad, for whom he will feature in Hong Kong this weekend and at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games the following week.

The departure of props Jordan Lay (already confirmed as joining Bristol next season), Elliot Millar-Mills and Matt Shields is not really a surprise, given that they each joined the club on short-term deals mid-season as emergency cover. Winger Jason Harries is in a similar boat having signed for the club on a 12-month deal from London Scottish last summer.

Tom Galbraith has also not had his contract renewed. The former Scotland Under-20 star was signed on a one-year deal last summer, but has been out for the full campaign through injury.

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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.