James King returns from international duty

EDINBURGH INTERIM head coach Nick Scrivener today called for a “significant improvement” in how his team perform the fundamentals of their game as the capital club prepare to face Munster in the Magners League at Thomond Park on Friday. Scrivener has encouraged his men to take a leaf out of the Irish side’s book in terms of the efficiency and consistency of their work at the set-piece and the breakdown, shortcomings in both these areas having cost Edinburgh dearly in Newport last weekend despite a three-try showing in attack.

The former Australia A, ACT Brumbies and Canberra Vikings coach confirmed: “We played a lot of good stuff against the Dragons, but if it’s happening in isolation, without the solid foundations you need to get a proper foothold, we’re not going to win games. “The big themes of our week have been improving the set-piece, how we defend the opposing team’s set-piece, and how we bring more physicality and direction at the breakdown. “The way Munster play has changed slightly in the last few years, and there’s no doubt they’ve got a number of dangerous weapons in the backs, but the basics of their game are always at a very high level and we should take our lead from that.”

“We’ve shown right across the season that we can play, but for us to properly take advantage of that and get back to winning matches, we need to give ourselves a platform. We have to look after the ball better, especially away from home, and make sure we don’t let matches get away from us in a short space of time as was the case last Saturday. “It’s about tightening up our game, really fronting up physically, and achieving consistency of performance.” Scrivener has made four changes to the team that ran out at Rodney Parade four days ago. In the backs, James King replaces John Houston at inside centre, the Borderer having taken a blow to his knee against Dragons. Up front, Scott MacLeod returns from international duty with Scotland to take a place in the second row alongside Steven Turnbull.

Elsewhere in the pack, Ross Rennie returns at openside, having come off the bench in both Scotland fixtures so far in the RBS 6 Nations Championship. Fraser McKenzie, meanwhile, moves from lock to blindside flanker. Scrivener explained: “Fraser has shown up well this season in the second row, but we feel he also has the skills to be a direct and effective six and we’ll be looking to him to impose himself in the right areas on Friday night. “James King has been knocking hard at the door for some time now; he’s done well off the bench whenever he’s had the chance and certainly deserves a start. “It’s great to have Scott and Ross back as well; they’re quality rugby players who will thrive in a hostile environment like Thomond Park. A number of our guys haven’t played there before, but the mark of a good player is to be inspired rather than intimidated by that sort of atmosphere. “We’ll need everyone to front up, to hit a much better level of performance than last week and sustain it over the game.”

Edinburgh team to play Munster in the Magners league at Thormond park on Friday 18 February

(kick-off 7:50pm, Live on BBC ALBA)

15 Chris Paterson

14 Lee Jones

13 Ben Cairns

12 James King

11 Tim Visser 10 David Blair

9 Greig Laidlaw (CAPTAIN) 1 Kyle Traynor

2 Andrew Kelly

3 Geoff Cross

4 Scott MacLeod

5 Steven Turnbull

6 Fraser McKenzie

8 Netani Talei

7 Ross Rennie


16 Alun Walker

17 Lewis Niven

18 David Young

19 Alan MacDonald

20 Roddy Grant

21 Nick De Luca

22 Simon Webster

23 Jim Thompson

Not considered due to injury: Alex Blair (back), Chris Bloomfield (ACL), Fraser Brown (neck, in post-surgery rehabilitation), Grant Gilchrist (ankle), Phil Godman (knee), John Houston (knee), Gregor Hunter (groin), Esteban Lozada (dead leg), Stuart McInally (hand)