Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill will hand new signing Robbie Fruean his debut against the Dragaons at Myreside on Friday and admits he is expecting big things from the Kiwi centre.
Fruean joins having experienced a checkered injury history throughout his career which has included two operations on his heart, but Cockerill is adamant he is a risk worth taking for the Scottish club.
“You have to understand that where we are as a club at the moment,” said Cockerill. “We’re probably not first off the rank when people are choosing clubs to come to, so we have to take a little bit of a risk on some players.
“Robbie’s injury history isn’t perfect, but we’ll look after him, we’ll get him fit, and we’ve done that over the last few weeks to get him on the field.
“He came to us with a slight patella tendon issue in his knee, which we’ve been wanting to get rid of rather than having to manage.
“We’ve been in the process of doing that, and just getting him right: it’s a long season, he’s very important to the group, and we wanted to make sure that when he did finally play he was 100 per cent ready to go.
“His heart condition is an ongoing bigger-picture thing that needs to be exactly right. The rest of it is just normal wear and tear on a player of his age who has played that much rugby.
“But he’s quality, he’s very much a class player, and for us to recruit that quality at this point and not be paying very, very top-end money, we have to take slight risks on certain players.
“I think Robbie’s a good player, a good man, and very much worth the risk, because I think we’ll be able to keep him fit in our environment.
“He’ll be a great asset to the playing side: he’s a big man, with good feet, and good skills, and he’ll cause some issues with and without the ball.”
Edinburgh go into the clash with Bernard Jackman’s Dragons having picked up an away victory in Cardiff on the opening day of the PRO14 season, and Cockerill is looking for his squad to build on their good start.
“Training has been good this week and we took great confidence from getting the result in Cardiff,” he added.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work in pre-season and I think we saw the rewards of that at the weekend.
“We’ve got to keep chipping away and keep building that confidence, culture and identity in what we’re doing. It was a good start for us, but we need to get it right again tomorrow night against the Dragons to make sure we keep collecting points – getting as many as we can, as early as we can.
“There will be no complacency – we are not in a position to take anybody lightly,” he said. “Cardiff was a great result but the key is can we back it up? I am very well aware of this team being able to have great results followed by poor ones, so we must prove to everybody we can back it up.”
In response to the Dragons’ heavy 36-19 home loss to Leinster last week, Jackman has drafted in South African Rynard Landman for Matthew Screech in the second row, and Kiwi centre Sam Beard for Jack Dixon.
Cory Hill will again skipper the side while Gavin Henson keeps his place at fly-half. Teenage scrum-half Owain Leonard is also in line to make his debut off the bench.
Dragons Back-row Harrison Keddie has admitted the squad must learn quickly from their defeat to Leinster as they head north to Scotland.
“Edinburgh are in a new era under Richard Cockerill now and will want to lay down a marker in their first home game, but it’s up to us to almost do what Leinster did to us,” he said.
“We need to nullify that first 20-30 minutes when they will come at us all guns blazing and then we’ve just got to execute our correct game plan, doing what we have been coached to do and prepared for.”
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Robbie Fruean, 11 Jason Harries 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1 Michele Rizzo, 2 Stuart McInally, 3 WP Nel, 4 Ben Toolis, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Magnus Bradbury, 8 Hamish Watson.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Junior Rasolea.
Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Charlie Davies; 1 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Leon Brown, 4 Rynard Landman, 5 Cory Hill, 6 James Thomas, 7 Harrison Keddie, 8 James Benjamin.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Max Williams, 21 Owain Leonard, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Adam Hughes.