Alan Solomons, their head coach, believes that the arrival of the New Zealander can help to turn around their fortunes. They are bottom of the RaboDirect Pro12 and face a daunting Heineken Cup opener against former winners Munster this weekend, although Beard is not eligible to appear in the early stages of the competition because the transfer has missed the deadline.
Details of Solomons' latest move came less than 24 hours after his assistant, Omar Mouneimne, appeared to hand a vote of no confidence to the team. In the wake of defeat by Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park, he said: "It's not about winning or losing at present; it's about playing better. We inherited a squad that we didn't recruit, so we didn't have a pre-season at all and we are some way behind."
Though Beard has never appeared on the Super Rugby stage, Solomons reckons his geographical pedigree is enough to justify his faith in the player. "Sam has played most of his rugby in Canterbury and has proved himself to be a solid performer in the ITM Cup of Bay of Plenty," said Solomons. "The rugby hotbed of Canterbury is arguably the best breeding ground in the world. This opportunity is really an extended trial for him to prove he's capable of adding value to our squad longer term, while adding to an area in which we currently lack depth."
Beard starred for provincial Canterbury B team and was brought into the Knights set-up, the development squad of the Crusaders. Bay of Plenty then offered the midfielder the next step up on the provincial ladder, where he played out his first season before being attracted by a move to Murrayfield.
"I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the club and the rugby culture," he said. "I consider myself a ball-running midfielder who plays an attacking style of football, but I'll look to do my best in offering whatever and wherever I can to benefit the side."
The arrival of Beard may not go down well with some Edinburgh supporters and former players, who have watched other overseas recruits fail to shine. Many would prefer opportunities be given to Scottish-based youngsters.