MATT Currie has signed his first senior contract as an Edinburgh player, while Mark Robertson is returning to his old team as head of strength and conditioning.

And, after a busy day at the DAM Health Stadium, Stuart McInally has been ruled out of Saturday’s Challenge Cup match at London Irish, with Southern Knights hooker Fraser Renwick joining as cover on a short-term deal.

Outside centre Currie, 20, has made five appearances so far for Edinburgh as an academy player and is highly regarded by head coach Mike Blair. He has had to wait patiently for his chance this season given the excellent form shown by Mark Bennett, who he says has been of considerable help to him since he joined the capital club.

“Mark has always been one I have looked up to,” Currie said after the announcement of his new deal, which runs for an unspecified period. “It's funny. It was a bit surreal when I first came in. 

“I was playing alongside him and playing against him, but he has been great as my role model and my mentor at the club. He has really helped me.

“He’s in top, top form at the moment. It's just about learning from him. He has been great with me since I joined the club, helping me to analyse my game. And he pushes me to challenge myself and get better.”

The Edinburgh squad for the London Irish match will be announced tomorrow [Friday], and Currie should be on the bench if not in the starting line-up. He has had to wait patiently for another chance after making those handful of appearances last season, but is determined to make an impact if and when the chance presents itself.

“It was great getting those opportunities, but Mark has been playing phenomenally and has had a big impact,” he continued. “I know I need to wait for my opportunities. At the end of last season I got a few opportunities and hopefully this season I can get a few more. When they come, I just need to grab them with both hands.

“I’m really enjoying the environment at the club at the moment and I’m absolutely loving my rugby. I think Edinburgh is a great place for me to develop my game and it’s something I’m excited for moving forward - I can’t wait to get stuck into it.”

Meanwhile, Robertson, who played on the wing for Edinburgh between 2007 and 2011 before becoming a sevens specialist, is returning after three years as a member of Clermont Auvergne’s S&C department. He knows some members of the current squad well - he and Bennett both won Olympic silver medals in 2016 as part of the Team GB sevens squad - and has been an interested observer as they have thrived this season under Blair.

 “It’s special to be joining a club that I have so many great memories from as a player,” he said. “I’ve watched from a distance as the club has gone from strength to strength on and off the pitch and I’m delighted to be part of its continued growth as a staff member.

“I’m excited to link up with an energetic and creative group of staff. It’s clear to see they’re creating a unique way of preparing the team and I’m looking forward to adding to this.

“The playing group has a great mix of experienced players playing at the top of their game and highly aspirational youngsters. They’ve already shown they can deliver at the highest level and it’s exciting to know they’ve not yet reached their potential. I can’t wait to get started.”

Edinburgh deregistered McInally from their squad to play London Irish as a result of the neck injury he sustained in the win against Cardiff last Saturday. He is, however, expected to play again in the next week or two, and so as things stand should be available to face England in the first match of the Six Nations Championship on 5 February. Although Renwick has been recruited as cover, Dave Cherry and Adam McBurney are expected to be the two hookers on duty against Irish in two days’ time.