EDINBURGH have signed Italian international loose-head prop Michele Rizzo on a six week loan deal from Leicester Tigers as cover for Allan Dell, Rory Sutherland and Alasdair Dickinson, who are all currently out injured and not expected back until October, November and December respectively.
“He’ll come into the 23 for the weekend,” confirmed head coach Richard Cockerill. “He’s a very experienced international prop who I know well. With the three international props that are injured at the moment, he’s good coverage for us.”
Darryl Marfo, who signed from Bath on a one-year deal during the summer, has started both of Edinburgh’s pre-season friendlies during the last two weeks, and has shown up well in the loose although the scrum struggled against Newcastle Falcons while he was on the park on Friday night. Meanwhile, youngster Murray McCallum was last week called into the Scotland training squad as cover for Gordon Reid and looks in fine physical condition.
“It adds competition. Marfo has done well, McCallum has done well, Rizzo is a known quantity who will bring experience,” added Cockerill, before confirming that there are no plans to make the deal longer term.
“Leicester are quite keen on him. They’ve got some good depth, so they want him to play in a tougher competition than the A League,” he explained.
The arrival of the 34-year-old – capped 23 times by the Azzurri – would appear to be bad news for former Scotland and Lions loose-head Ryan Grant, who has been training with the club in recent weeks in an attempt to secure a deal which will rescue his faltering career.
While Rizzo trained with the squad yesterday [Monday], Grant was nowhere to be seen – and Cockerel was pretty non-committal when asked about the player’s chances of securing a permanent deal.
“At this point, Ryan’s got to show his fitness and readiness to play rugby full-time. I’m dealing with the here and now, which is Cardiff, Newport [Dragons], Treviso and going to Leinster – that’s what I have to deal with, those 16 plus points are the difference in the competition. Is Ryan available for selection? Potentially, but he won’t be for this week. He has to decide what he wants to do,” said the coach.