SA influx causes a stir in Edinburgh
Wed, 08 Jan 2014 08:32
It is nothing more than a few distant murmurs at the moment, but there are already dissenting voices over the influx of South Africans at Edinburgh.
Alan Solomons, who left the Southern Kings last year to take up a role as head coach at the Scottish outfit, has plundered his home country for talent to help the team based in the Scottish capital back to its feet.
When Solomons arrived in Edinburgh last August, prop Willem Nel and lock Izak van der Westhuizen were already on the team's books.
Over the months since he has added prop Wicus Blaauw, flank Cornell du Preez, centre Andries Strauss and flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout, the last-named pair arriving in the past few days.
Solomons has also brought in Tony Fenner, an English scrumhalf, and Tomas Leonardi, an Argentinean loose forward - both who played for him at the Southern Kings.
However, the absence of any Scottish recruits has caused a stir.
The concern is that the short-term goal of resurrecting the team's fortunes may be undermining the stated desire to be and out that can develop players for the Scottish national side.
Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw made it clear he was not criticising the coach when he was asked about the issue, but the Scotland scrumhalf acknowledged that there was scope for disquiet.
"What is happening is happening," Laidlaw was quoted as saying in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper.
"Alan [Solomons] feels there is a need to bring in a few people he knows.
"That is out with my control.
"I came through the [Scottish club] system and was very grateful for that.
"We need to be careful where we are going because there is a lot of good young talent in Scotland that can come through and will come through."
The suggestion is that it is just a temporary state of affairs.
When Solomons took over at Ulster just over a dozen years ago, his quick-fix solution, then as now, was to sign some of his countrymen.
Over the next few years, however, the focus changed, and by the time he left – for a brief and unhappy spell in charge of Northampton – the accent of the side was, quite literally, more recognisably that of Northern Ireland once more.
In recent weeks, Solomons has hinted that he is looking at a number of players in the amateur Scottish club game, just as he did with Ulster.
And as well he might.
For all the merits of the players Solomons has brought in – the best of them, unquestionably, has been Du Preez – the fact is that the brightest talents in the Scottish game in recent years have been those who have served some time with Scottish clubs before making their breakthroughs in the professional ranks.
Richie Gray, Stuart Hogg, Dave Denton, Matt Scott and Alex Dunbar all emerged that way.
In a recent Pro12 game, against Ulster, Solomons sent out a side in which only one player, wing Dougie Fife, had been born in Scotland.
In their last competitive outing, against Glasgow, only two of the Edinburgh pack had learned their trade in Scotland. Five were effectively products of the South African system; the one remaining pack member was Australian.
A number of the players Solomons has brought to Edinburgh are thought to be on short-term contracts. Within a couple of seasons, things could be very different again.
"There are foreigners in every squad all over the world and Edinburgh is no exception," Laidlaw said.
"We are all one here. But with there being only two Scottish based teams it is very important to have as many Scottish boys playing as possible."
"There are foreigners in every squad all over the world and Edinburgh is no exception," noted Laidlaw. "We are all one here. But with there being only two Scottish based teams it is very important to have as many Scottish boys playing as possible."
Source: The Telegraph
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