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Interest in Sutherland proves that Edinburgh are keeping their eyes open

THERE has been no shortage of critics of the signing policy at Edinburgh which has brought in 16 overseas players during the last year, with only about half qualified to play for Scotland.

However, Steve Scott, the forwards coach, is adamant they are not ignoring the domestic game.

The coach has taken a hands-on role in the scouting system and believes that it is beginning to show progress. The latest player to attract his interest is Rory Sutherland, the 21-year-old Gala prop who has been invited to train with the group where his clubmate Ewan McQuillan is already part of the elite development squad. Sutherland will also head for a summer in New Zealand as a winner of the McPhail Scholarship.

"I have watched 18 club games this season and there has been a lot of work done in watching the best players coming through," Scott said. "Rory has a bright future ahead of him. He was in last week and back in on Tuesday. Looseheads are important and we need back-up in that position. He is coming in with a view to train and we will see how it goes from there.

"It shows his commitment that he has come in as he has a full-time job [as an engineer]. It is important we don't put too much pressure on him or his employers.

"He shows you don't have to come through age-group international rugby. There is an opportunity for people to be late developers - I signed a contract at 24 and props can play for a long time."

Across in Glasgow, there is also a second chance for Murray Mc Connell, the scrum-half. The 21-year-old was on the club's books as a development player while a teenager, but suffered a series of injuries and was allowed to leave a year ago to rebuild his career and confidence with Ayr.

He has done that and is now being brought all the way back into the fold, effectively taking the spot in the roster which will become vacant when Chris Cusiter heads for Sale. "I'm ambitious and I want to play at as high a level as possible and I'll get that opportunity at Scotstoun. It's an exciting time," said McConnell.

He signed his contract at the same time as two of the current flankers. Rob Harley, the 23-year-old blindside capped last year, and Tyrone Holmes, who played for Scotland A in his first season after arriving from South Africa, have agreed two-year deals.

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