EDINBURGH full-back Blair Kinghorn is sure he can make a rapid transition to stand-off if and when required, and that the positional switch will not have an adverse effect on his international chances.

The 24-year-old has played for Scotland on the wing as well, but for Edinburgh has invariably been the last line of defence, earning a reputation as a powerful counter-attacker. However, head coach Mike Blair tried him out in the No 10 jersey in last week’s big friendly win over Benetton - a position he has previously played at school but only occasionally as a professional - and a more regular change from 15 now appears a distinct possibility.

There are three related reasons for that. One is the strength of Edinburgh’s options in the position, where new signing Henry Immelman has shown up very well in pre-season and both Damien Hoyland and Jack Blain are able to step in when needed. Another is the need for a tactical alternative at 10: Jaco van der Walt is dependable but a conservative option, while neither Charlie Savala nor Nathan Chamberlain, both 21, have the experience required to start a run of games in the pivotal position.

And the third reason, quite simply, is the nature of Kinghorn’s game. Blair is sure he has the requisite versatility, and, although insisting he has a lot to learn, the man himself is confident he can do a job there.   

“I’m really enjoying playing at stand-off and getting my hands on the ball a bit more,” Kinghorn said earlier this week. “I really feel like I can influence play a little bit. I feel like I’m pretty good in that position, although obviously I’ve got a lot to learn at the professional level, but I’m really enjoying it.

“I’m not looking too far ahead. It’s another string to my bow if I’m able to play in a variety of positions, but I’m just focusing week to week, I’m not thinking long term. I’m just trying to learn.”


Whether he plays mainly at 15 or 10 for Edinburgh, Kinghorn is sure he will remain a contender for a Scotland place provided he is playing well enough. “If you’re playing good rugby in any position you try and force your way into the national squad,” he added. “But having the versatility of being able to play 10, both wings and 15 could be something really positive for me.”

Blair will today name his team to play Scarlets on Saturday in his first competitive match in charge of Edinburgh, and it will be fascinating to see if he errs on the side of caution and selects Van der Walt, or stays true to his adventurous instincts and goes with Kinghorn. He is well aware that Kinghorn is not the finished article at fly-half, but is convinced he will learn very quickly.  

“He’s such a talented player that I don’t think it takes much for him to move between positions,” the coach said. “You saw that game [last season] against Scarlets, for example, where he played at 10. He’d only played one game at 10 that season and he ran the show. Yeah, there were a couple of things that are a bit clunky but he looked like he’d played 10 all his life, so he’s definitely got the ability to be able to do that. 

“I just think he’s got a lot of skills that tick the box of a 10 and he’s got X factor as well. There were a couple of things in the game [against Benetton] on Saturday that didn’t quite come off, but I’m looking at things from a positive side and he’s seeing that space and you’ll get some 10s that don’t. He’s got that ability and you can’t coach that. So a little bit of time in the saddle and we’ll see a good improvement.”