EDINBURGH’s game against Newcastle tomorrow is their first outing of the season, their first match at their new ground and their first under Mike Blair. Of those three firsts, the head coach himself believes his own debut is by far the least significant.

Hailed for some time as one of the most promising coaches of his generation, the former Scotland captain is about to embark on a crucial new stage of his embryonic career. Yet, after naming his team for the Falcons friendly, Blair insisted the occasion would not be about him.

“I haven’t really thought about me much,” he said. “I’ve tried to make a really conscious effort for it not to be about me. It’s about the players: it’s their journey. 

“We as support staff are part of it, we’re helping it, but our job is to make the players feel comfortable and make the players perform. This isn’t about me and my first game: this is about Edinburgh’s first game in their new stadium and having the freedom to express themselves and work hard and work for each other.”

That freedom, however, is very much part of the Blair approach, and very different from the one taken by his predecessor Richard Cockerill. “We have tried to do things a little bit differently from what has happened before,” the new coach continued. “I'm really impressed by how quickly guys are picking things up, offering their own opinions and working collaboratively to find a way we are comfortable playing. 

“I've been looking forward to this since about three weeks ago. I've been desperate to get this first game done to see where we are at and see the boys expressing themselves and playing well.”

Summer signings Henry Immelman, Ben Vellacott and Luan de Bruin are all in the starting line-up. Several other newcomers, among them Argentinian back-three player Ramiro Moyano, are poised to make their debuts off the bench.

Edinburgh (v Newcastle Falcons at the Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, tomorrow 3pm): H Immelman; J Blain, M Bennett, C Hutchison, D Hoyland; J van der Walt, B Vellacott; B Venter, D Cherry (captain), L de Bruin, M Sykes, J Hodgson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie, N Haining. Substitutes: P Schoeman, H Lloyd, A McBurney, P Harrison, L Atalifo, A Williams, P Phillips, D Suddon, B Muncaster, C Boyle, C Shiel, H Pyrgos, C Savala, R Moyano, J Venter, J Johnstone, P Anderson.