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Coach hopes captain Coman can do a 'Blackadder' at Edinburgh

IT was a case of "not yet" for the inexperienced Scot and "yes please" to the experienced New Zealander as Alan Solomons unveiled his Edinburgh captaincy team for the season.

Mike Coman has captained every team he has played for and has led out Edinburgh in eight of his 10 starts. Picture: SNS
Mike Coman has captained every team he has played for and has led out Edinburgh in eight of his 10 starts. Picture: SNS

Though Grant Gilchrist finished Scotland's summer tour skippering the national side, he has to be satisfied with vice-captaincy at Edinburgh, with overall charge handed to Mike Coman, the New Zealander signed last season.

Not that Solomons accepted there was a problem with going for the foreigner: "Everybody on a contract at Edinburgh is just a member of Edinburgh. I don't draw any distinction, I won't discriminate in any way," he said. "As far as the team is concerned they are all Edinburgh players, though that does not does not impact in any way on our vision to build a sustainable club by developing indigenous talent."

He is clearly hoping that Coman, who has captained every team has has played for and led Edinburgh in eight of his 10 starts after arriving midway through last season, can do a similar job in inspiring and helping rebuild the team to that done by Todd Blackadder more than a decade ago.

Like Blackadder, Coman plays in the back row, learned his trade at the coalface of Canterbury rugby in New Zealand, has a reputation as an inspiring general and says he will lead by example and by setting standards for off-field work.

"Mike is cut from the same cloth," Solomons said. "Todd is a very down to earth person who knows and understands his rugby. They are the same types of people. From that perspective you can draw parallels.

"Their playing careers have been different but, as a person, Mike will add huge value wherever he goes and will add huge value here at Edinburgh — I have been most impressed with him. I have a lot of friends in New Zealand rugby and speaking to them before he arrived I knew he was held in high regard, particularly regarding his leadership."

He is adamant that Gilchrist's time will come, but Solomons pointed out that when he arrived 12 months ago, the lock was not in the leadership group and was not even calling the line outs. With so much club rebuilding to be done, Gilchrist still learning and potentially facing international demands, he felt it was better to go for the more experienced player, though he promised that the pair would operate as a captaincy team.

Coman, who arrived after captaining Hawkes Bay to the ITM Cup, admitted that after leading the side so often last season he was not particularly surprised at being asked to take the role on a full-time basis. "I have been doing captaincy roles for a long time and New Zealand rugby is the most competitive in the world, I am reasonably old now, I have played in a lot of games in high-pressure situations and have learned to stay reasonably calm and make the right decisions," he said.

"I take pride in making sure my performances are consistent and that off-field you are as professional as you can be. It is case of keeping guys organised and driving high standards."

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