Edinburgh banking on Bezuidenhout
Edinburgh banking on BezuidenhoutSHARE
Edinburgh are confident that South African signing Carl Bezuidenhout can make the step up to the European Cup if called upon this week, while fellow South Africa WP Nel is convinced the Scots have what it takes to beat Perpignan in Pool Six.
Bezuidenhout has been added to Edinburgh's European squad ahead of Saturday's clash with the Catalans at Murrayfield, having only signed for the club at the very close of the year.
The 30-year-old excelled in domestic action for the Pumas in his homeland last year and has a raft of first class experience behind him, but stepping straight into top-flight continental competition would be a baptism of fire.
Head coach Alan Solomons, himself a South African, insists the flyhalf is more than capable of proving his worth on the big stage, though, as Edinburgh look to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive ahead of the Round Six match up with Munster.
"We brought Carl into the squad on a trial as well as to serve as injury cover. His availability presents us with selection options for Saturday's match-day squad," said Solomons, who is currently without fellow flyhalves Harry Leonard, Piers Francis and Gregor Hunter.
"Carl has performed really well for the Pumas and played a pivotal role in their First Division success and promotion to the Currie Cup last year. His game management is very good, he's got a good boot out of hand and for goal, and is very athletic.
"He now has an excellent opportunity to show us what he is capable of, while also solving an immediate issue in that we are desperately short of flyhalves. We will have to see how he tracks for us but I think he has the ability.
"He's trained well with team since his arrival, while Greig Tonks has performed admirably since moving from fullback to flyhalf so, despite still having injuries in this position, we go into the Perpignan match in relatively good shape in that regard."
Edinburgh currently sit third in the pool with two wins and two defeats to their name, with a surprise success at Gloucester last time out re-igniting their slim hopes of reaching their knockout stages of either the European Cup or the Challenge Cup.
A Munster victory at Gloucester on Saturday night would extinguish their European Cup dream a week early however they perform at home to Perpignan but an English triumph coupled with a win of their own could see them remain in the hunt ahead of their trip to Thomond Park in Round Six.
Prop forward Nel says qualification isn't their primary focus given that it is out of their hands but he insists they are desperate to finish the pool with a brace of big wins, regardless of how things pan out elsewhere.
"I don't think we have spoken about how we can go forward [qualify]," Nel told The Scotsman. "Munster must lose every game now and we must win every game.
"But, for us as players, every game we have been getting stronger and stronger and to win these two games will mean a lot to us as a group, so it is important to go game by game.
"And this is a big game. All French teams have massive packs and it can take some time to wear them down, but you do that and make them tired so you can get on top of them.
"We can take a lot from that game in Perpignan [in Round Two]. We had just started in the European Cup and we have grown since then. We can take [a lot from] that 40-50 minutes at the start and be confident that we can beat those guys. We are much better than we were back then."