URC returns: Ben Healy and Javan Sebastian could debut for Edinburgh this weekend

Four Scotland World Cup squad members in the selection mix for capital side's trip to the Dragons on Saturday afternoon

Scotland stand-off Ben Healy could make his Edinburgh debut against Dragons on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland stand-off Ben Healy could make his Edinburgh debut against Dragons on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

ALL four of the Scotland World Cup squad members who have returned to training with Edinburgh this week are in contention to play in Saturday’s URC campaign opener away to Dragons.

Stand-0ff Ben Healy, back-row Luke Crosbie, back-five forward Sam Skinner and tight-head prop Javan Sebastian all had limited game-time in France with the national team but has spent the whole summer in Scotland’s World Cup preparation camp. However, Sean Everitt, the capital club’s new ‘senior coach’, believes that the quartet would be able to slot into the side for the trip to Wales if called upon.

“Yes, they are available for selection,” he said. “We’ll announce the team later this week. We’ll see how they get through the planning and preparation, but if we want to select them they are available.”


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Everitt explained that the remainder of Edinburgh’s World Cup contingent will be filtered back into the side over the coming weeks.

Duhan van der Merwe is going to have extra time off right now,” he explained. “We’re looking for Duhan to be available for the Leinster game, which is in round three.

Darcy Graham [hip] and Jamie Ritchie [shoulder/ribs] are carrying injuries from the World Cup, so they won’t be available for some time. It could be four to six weeks.”

Dave Cherry, whose World Cup campaign came to an abrupt end when he slipped on a step at the team hotel and suffered a concussion during a team day-off following the South Africa defeat, is also in contention this weekend.

“It took him a while to get over the concussion. He’s well and healthy, and he’s got a new member to the family [after he and fiancé Olivia celebrated the birth of their daughter Isabella last month], which  is very exciting for them, and he seems to have settled down well at home. So we’re excited to have him back, and I’m sure he’ll be eager to put his hand up for selection later on when Scotland name their squad for the Six Nations,” said Everitt.

Given that Healy and Sebastian are new signings so have only just linked up with their new team-mates and coaches, selecting those two against the Dragons would be a particularly big ask, but Everitt believes they are up to the challenge.

“Ben came in last week and we had meetings with him. He’s keen to get on to the field, and I think all guys that are part of the spine on the field want to control the show,” he reasoned. “He’s a diligent young man and he’s learned his roles really well – and he’s an international, we’ve got to respect the fact that they lay for their country and they shouldn’t necessarily be on the bench or not starting in that regard. It’s a good thing that he hits the ground running, otherwise it’s just another week for him to learn again.”

Healy’s excellent goal-kicking, which saw him kick 11 from 11 against Romania during the World Cup, is also a crucial consideration in favour of rushing the former Ireland under-20s playmaker straight into the side.

“The 11 out of 11 is an area that Edinburgh struggled with last year,” acknowledged Everitt. “The team only kicked 62 percent accuracy, which was a big part of their downfall in the tournament [the URC]. And as we all know, there were only a couple of points in it between 12th and the top eight, so we need to nail those points, and Ben can certainly do it for us.”

Everitt recognises that bringing these players into the side at the earliest opportunity means that some of the emerging players who have trained hard over the summer and performed well in the club’s to pre-season matches will miss out on a chance of competitive game-time, but professional rugby is a cut-throat business.

“That is going to be disappointing for some, because they have trained from 12th June, but the reason behind that was to develop them and get them up to standard for the URC, so if we need them they’ll be at the right standard,” he said.

“In the two friendlies that we played, some of the boys have put their hands up. The full-back, Nathan Sweeney, has been really good. And the two 7s boys [wingers Ross McCann and Jordan Edmunds] that we brought in to play against Bath were outstanding in that game. Cameron Neild got man-of-the-match against Bath.

“Those are nice selection problems to have rather than stressing about not having people to fulfil positions. So, we’ve given it some thought and there has been a lot of planning going into the next nine rounds of the URC with regards to team selection in a perfect world. The guys have been communicated to, and everyone seems to be happy with where they are at the moment.”

 

Meanwhile, seven Glasgow Warriors players returned from World Cup duty to attend Monday’s open training session at Scotstoun and their return to training is being managed on a case by case basis, with scrum coach Al Dickinson pleading ignorance on when they will be considered for selection.

“They’re back in the building, whether Franco [Smith] selects them to play is a different story,” he said. “Players coming back from World Cups is always a difficult thing to manage because they go from being on a real high – potentially a once in a lifetime experience – to effectively your day job. It is a great day job, don’t get me wrong, it is the best in the world – but it is a difficult thing to manage players’ bodies and emotions.

“That is why it is great that I don’t have to deal with it – it is why Franco gets paid the big bucks!”

“Some guys we are trying to hold back because they’ve had a frustrating World Cup, but they need to be managed,” he added. “The fact that they all want to play is great, and just having them back around the squad, to help bolster numbers, is really useful.”

“They’ll come back in dribs and drabs, but hopefully we can get our hands on them and they are keen to play as soon as possible.

“Having said that, when they are not here it gives other guys the opportunity they need to play. If we want to grow the game in Scotland and build the depth then we need these guys to step up, which I think is really exciting as a coach.

“You obviously want your experienced guys back but you want to see some other individuals step up, and it doesn’t get much harder than Leinster first game of the season [this Sunday afternoon]. So, I just see it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

“The great thing about the World Cup is that it exposes rugby to the wider public. Your die-hard fans will watch games every week, but with the way this World Cup has gone and the exciting games we’ve had, it will attract more people to watch it. And for the players in our environment, they are saying: ‘I want to play at a World Cup’.

“So, it puts the incentive right in front of the players, and I think it lifts up the level of competition across the board.”


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About David Barnes 4012 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.

3 Comments

  1. The URC of course hasn’t started so no problem for the clubs resting their RWC players. Redpath played about ninety minutes in the RWC so I’m sure he didn’t find it too much of an effort to play for Bath last weekend and Russell came off the bench to play just over half the game and if you go to England to chase the money you have to be prepared to earn it as I’m sure Finn was. Chris Harris rested by Gloucester so bang goes the zero rest theory.

  2. It will be good to have these guys playing for Edinburgh. Particularly keen to see Healy and Sebastian in action. Surprised to see that Watson is not back when he hardly had any game time.

    Also interesting to see that Finn and Redpath both played for Bath last weekend – so zero rest when you play outside Scotland.

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