EDINBURGH RUGBY assistant coach Duncan Hodge has insisted that his side must not let complacency seep into their thinking as they prepare to host Southern Kings at Murrayfield this afternoon.

The capital club are still on a high after defeating their great rivals, Glasgow Warriors, with an impressive performance last weekend to keep the 1872 Cup alive until the end of the season.

That win left Edinburgh sitting in second position in their Pro14 conference, just a point behind leaders Munster, and so getting the better of bottom-placed side, Kings, should be a straightforward task.

However, Hodge insists his side are taking nothing for granted, particularly as the South African’s got the better of Edinburgh in Port Elizabeth last season.

“We feel as though the Kings are an improved side from last season,” he said.

“We’re looking for consistency on our side. It was a big game last week, but this is an equally big game with the same number of league points on offer, and we’ll just really be looking to get our fundamental parts right along with respecting the threats they have across their team which we know all about because the last time we played them they got one over on us.

“If I’m really honest, the thing that’s really stuck in my stomach this week is how I felt, and how the squad felt, over there in Port Elizabeth last year when we lost that fixture. I keep reiterating that these games are as important as any others in the Pro14 season – you get the same points for them.

“It’s one we knew we let slip last year. We have to keep knocking teams off week-in, week-out otherwise the other teams in the conference will.”

Edinburgh have made a whopping eleven changes to their starting fifteen, with stand-off Jaco van der Walt returning to make his 50th appearance for the capital club.

Also coming in is Henry Pyrgos at half-back, as well as a new centre pairing of Matt Scott and James Johnstone with Fijian international Eroni Sau returning on the wing.

Jamie Bhatti and Mike Willemse are in the front-row, as Scotland international lock Lewis Carmichael starts to make his eighth appearance of the season.

John Barclay returns from injury, with Magnus Bradbury and Nick Haining named at blindside flanker and 8 respectively.

That head coach Richard Cockerill has the confidence to make such sweeping changes to his starting fifteen illustrates his belief in his entire squad. Edinburgh boast considerably greater strength-in-depth than they have in recent seasons and it is playing off in their results.

And while last season may not have gone quite to plan, Hodge believes the experience many of the squad gained by being thrown in at the deep end has stood them in excellent stead for this year.

“I don’t think that was by design last year (giving inexperienced players game-time). We felt like we were trying to give individuals opportunities,” he said.

“As you know, the international windows hit us hard last year in terms of our push to make the play-offs, and we’ve given ourselves a really good opportunity this year while the World Cup was going on by having guys with a year more experienced coming in and doing the jersey justice. I feel as though there has been a far better squad contribution, and this weekend is going to be another example of that for the guys who have been rotated in.”

A welcome inclusion in Cockerill’s starting line-up is Scotland internationalist Matt Scott, who has come into form with excellent timing considering selection for the Six Nations is just round the corner.

The inside centre returned to Edinburgh in the summer of 2018 after a stint at Gloucester and having missed out on the World Cup squad last year, the 28-year-old is desperate to get back into the international fold.

And while it remains to be seen who Gregor Townsend selects for his Six Nations squad, Hodge is on no doubt that Scott has put himself in an excellent position to be included.“When Matt first came in to the club the first thing he was looking to do was to improve as a player,” he said.

“Obviously defence is an area that I take charge of and I’ve been really, really impressed by him this season around the principles that we hammer into the guys in the backline around what we look for. I think there’s been a marked changed in his behaviour and the consistency of the work that he does there has improved.

“Hopefully the national selectors see that and will pay credit to his club form in that respect. He obviously did very well with ball in hand off the bench last week, but the setpiece efforts defensively that he had to deal with against a dangerous Glasgow attack I thought he did exceptionally well.”