WATSONIANS have teamed up with Edinburgh Rugby to sign 21-year old South African-born prop Kyle Whyte on a partnership contract until the end of the season. He will start on the bench for the professional outfit against Ulster tomorrow night.
Partnership contracts between Glasgow Warriors and BT Premiership clubs have been a fairly common occurrence in recent seasons, but this is the first time it has happened at Edinburgh.
Whyte was identified as a tighthead in the Edinburgh press release announcing his arrival but in an interview on Cape Rugby TV in December of 2014, the player says he has ‘always’ been a loosehead. He seems to have played on both sides of the scrum since then.
With three of the four tightheads from the Edinburgh squad named at the start of the season currently injured – WP Nel (neck), Simon Berghan (foot) and Kevin Bryce (shoulder) – it is clearly a problem area for the pro team.
Nick Beavon is fit again after being out with a neck injury last week but Edinburgh seem reluctant to throw the first year pro in at the deep end.
Murray McCallum, of Heriot’s, who is a third year Academy player having come through the ranks as a loosehead, will wear the number three jersey tomorrow night. Argentinean tighthead Felipe Arregui, who arrived at Edinburgh last week on a short-term contract until the end of January, has also been named on the bench.
Watsonians were left short in this crucial position as well after summer signing Ewan McQuillin moved to London Scottish just a few weeks into the season.
Whyte played for Western Province at under-19 and under-21 levels before breaking into the senior side where he featured in nine games last season during their qualifying campaign for the Currie Cup. He is eligible to play for Scotland through his father, Steve, who was born and brought up in Inverness.
“It’s a very exciting time and prospect for me. With my dad being born here, I’ve always been interested in coming over to Scotland, so I’m looking forward to getting started and proving myself. The coaching staff and boys have been very welcoming, which has helped me fit straight into the team. I’ve really enjoyed my first couple of days training,” said Whyte.
“If I’m not selected to play for Edinburgh at the weekend, it’s good to know I’ve got a club in Watsonians which will help me to get some good quality game time and improve as a player.
“To have the opportunity to train with the likes of WP [Nel] is very exciting. He’s someone in particular I’m keen to learn from and look to for hints and tips on the art of scrummaging.”
Duncan Hodge, Edinburgh’s interim head coach, welcomed the new arrival.
“We’re delighted to have another young, talented prop enter the fray to compete for a spot in the team,” he said.
“Since arriving last week, Kyle has fitted in well, trained hard, and has readily embraced the Edinburgh Rugby culture and ethos.”
“It’s exciting to have a partnership contracted player at the club and we feel that Kyle will reap the benefits in terms of his development in spending time with Edinburgh Rugby and Watsonians.”
Jack Cosgrove will make his fist Pro12 start at loosehead against Ulster, suggesting that Alan Dell is in line to make his international debut against Australia next weekend.
Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist, John Hardie and Hamish Watson have also not been released from the national squad.
Duncan Weir is back after fracturing his jaw at the end of September and starts on the bench.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Ulster in Guinness PRO12 @ BT Murrayfield on Friday 4 November, kick-off 7.35pm –
15. Blair Kinghorn
14. Damien Hoyland
13. Chris Dean
12. Phil Burleigh
11. Tom Brown
10. Jason Tovey
9. Sean Kennedy
1. Jack Cosgrove
2. Neil Cochrane CAPTAIN
3. Murray McCallum
4. Fraser McKenzie
5. Ben Toolis
6. Viliame Mata
7. Jamie Ritchie
8. Magnus Bradbury
16. Stuart McInally
17. Kyle Whyte
18. Felipe Arregui
19. Lewis Carmichael
20. Cornell Du Preez
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. Duncan Weir
23. Michael Allen
Image courtesy Scottish Rugby/SNS Group