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Solomons rests case as five drop out

EDINBURGH will rest five Scotland internationalists for their return Heineken Cup match at Gloucester tomorrow, but Alan Solomons, the head coach, angrily denied that meant he is not taking the match seriously.

It is simply a case of allowing exhausted players a break and giving others a chance, he insisted.

The loss of the five - Greig Laidlaw, Nick De Luca and David Denton are given the weekend off while Alasdair Dickinson and Ross Rennie are handed on the bench - is slightly offset by the return of Ross Ford at hooker after a three-week break recovering from a calf muscle strain.

Ford and Grant Gilchrist, at lock, will be the only current Scotland players in the Edinburgh starting XV, as Solomons looks for a more clinical performance than that produced in last weekend's 23-12 defeat at Murrayfield where his team put on a demonstration of the current Scottish fad of playing most of the rugby while failing to take chances and making enough stupid mistakes to gift tries.

"It is nothing to do with not taking the Heineken Cup seriously," said Solomons, who was sufficiently worried about Denton to give him extra time off before he played last week. "We take every game seriously, whether it is Heineken Cup or the [RaboDirect] PRO12. It is looking at the players and understanding that you cannot play them in every game.

"In Super Rugby nobody goes more than five or six games before the coaches rest them. They rotate because there is fatigue. You play week in, week out, and these players have played three back-to-back Test matches on a heavy pitch, two of them against the No.2 and No.3 teams in the world. Then we had a game against Connacht which was very important to us, and the Heineken Cup home game against Gloucester.

"That is a lot of rugby. So not only do you have the mental thing of playing five big games back to back, particularly the Test matches, there is also the physical fatigue. They are at the point where you can see that physically they need a break. It is a massive chunk out of a team, there is no doubt about that. Of course, not having them playing is a loss but it presents opportunities to others. It is the right decision for the players and the team."

In fact, Solomons would have liked to have left Dickinson out completely as well but does not have the front-row resources to make that possible. Ross Rennie is being managed back to full fitness and has also had to cope with the recent death of his mother.

No-one will ever know if Solomons would have made the same decisions had his side won last weekend but he was honest enough to admit the home defeat means reaching the knock-out stage is now the longest of long shots.

Two players make their first starts, the loosehead prop Wicus Blaauw, and Grayson Hart, one of the Scottish qualified Australians who arrived in August, at scrum-half. Hart suffered a pre-season injury and has had to wait for his chance behind Laidlaw and a couple of promising youngsters who seized their opportunity when he was out.

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