Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt is adamant that Blair Kinghorn can become ‘one of the best full-backs in the world.’ 

The 26-year-old will return to the Edinburgh team to face the Lions at Hive Stadium on Saturday after recovering from a concussion sustained at the World Cup against Ireland. The Scotland international has been Gregor Townsend’s first choice at full-back since the retirement of Stuart Hogg and he’s flourished. 

Kinghorn, however, has been deployed at fly-half at Edinburgh in recent seasons but Everitt views him predominately at 15. Ben Healy excelled on debut against the Dragons last week and the summer arrival from Munster will hold the 10 shirt. 

Everitt believes Kinghorn possesses a vast skillset and shows why he should be regarded among the world’s best. 

“Yes I do,” Everitt replied when asked if he views Kinghorn as a full-back. “I’m not saying he won’t play 10 - I see him as a 15 who can back up 10. I think it would be great for Blair to settle in a position and I certainly see Scotland using him as a 15 going forward and it will be an opportunity for him to get more game-time in that position, specialise as a 15 and potentially become one of the best full-backs in the world.

“Yes, I do think that he can be. He’s really good under the high ball, he’s got deceptive pace, he enjoys the counter-attack, he’s good with ball in hand and obviously kicks the ball really well. So, he’s all-rounded and suited to that position.”

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Edinburgh’s decision to use Kinghorn at fly-half under previous head coaches raised eyebrows amongst influential figures in Scottish rugby. That consternation will only be heightened by Everitt’s ascension that Kinghorn can become one of the best full-backs in the world, but the South African refused to be drawn on previous decisions.

“Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to answer that question,” Everitt replied on why Kinghorn had been played at full-back. “I’ve only been here for the last two and a half months.

“But I enjoy a full-back who has counter-attack ability and we certainly saw that potential in him against France in the two Test matches he played. Unfortunately, he went off early in the last pool match at the World Cup.

“When we talk about being one of the best full-backs in the world we talk about the all-round skills that he has and the athletic ability. So, there is that potential there, but that potential can only be reached if he settles in a position and like I said earlier, if we need him to play 10 due to injury or in a crisis situation then we will definitely consider him there because he’s just such a great footballer.

“But I do believe players build confidence from coming off the bench to play different positions which helps them gain a better understanding of the game, and I think he’s served his apprenticeship in that area, for Edinburgh, we would like him to settle at 15. 

“We did discuss Blair with Gregor [Townsend] last week and although we would like to see him at full-back it will depend upon the demands.”

Edinburgh kickstarted the season with their first away win in the URC in a year against the Dragons. Everitt will welcome several Scotland internationals back including Kinghorn and Hamish Watson, but Duhan van der Merwe has been afforded an extended break.

Influential number 8 Bill Wata also returns after his exploits for Fij in France and Everitt has no concerns over his fitness despite a bruising World Cup. 

“Bill had a week off to rest and recuperate,” Everitt added. “He played a lot of minutes in the World Cup and was certainly on form in that competition. We welcome him back and he adds huge value to our team at the lineout and from a ball-carrying perspective. He hit the ground running on Monday and is in good shape and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can deliver tomorrow.”

Edinburgh announced on Friday that Grant Gilchrist will be co-captain this season, alongside Ben Vellacot. The 33-year-old has made 188 appearances for the club across 13 seasons and this will be his fifth campaign as part of the leadership group, after co-captaining the side in four previous campaigns. 

Gilchrist has been handed the responsibility despite Jamie Ritchie’s presence within the squad as Scotland captain. Everitt admits it wasn’t an easy decision but he believes Ritchie has enough pressure with his international role.

“It was quite a difficult decision for me coming in late,” admitted Everitt. “I hadn’t met the international players personally. I chatted to Jamie about the captaincy and just from my experience in the past, having worked with John Smit and with Siya Kolisi at the Sharks, they felt it was a bit of a relief not having the captaincy during the domestic season - it meant they were able to concentrate on the game.

“It’s just something that I suggested to Jamie. Ben was always going to be announced as a captain when the internationals were away - there was the World Cup and then the Six Nations are coming up. It was between Gilko and Jamie, and I just felt that Jamie needed a bit of a break, focus on his rugby, and take those pressures away. He’s under enough pressure when he’s captaining Scotland. And then hand over those reins to Gilko, who has been at the club for years.”