IF a change really is as good as a rest, the Edinburgh rugby players are going to be fully refreshed this weekend after they get the chance to forget about their day jobs for a while and swap sports to take on the Eastern Knights in a cricket charity match tonight.

With the Guinness PRO14 season still two months away, they could go stir crazy as the pre-season drags on so it will be a valuable time to relax and change gears for the players, most of whom have not picked up a cricket bat since school.

Which is not to say the serious work of getting ready for the pre-season warm-up matches and opening day of the season soon afterwards is not progressing, though assistant coach Duncan Hodge admits there have been challenges.

“A lot of hard work has been done,” he said. “The rugby is just starting to ramp up now but it is obviously disjointed. The season is starting a bit later and we are going to have some boys away but we don’t know who.


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“We are starting to integrate a lot of the young Academy guys in, it is exciting. The likes of Matt Currie, Harry Paterson [both from last season’s Scotland Under 18 squad] and these guys. They finished school only 10 weeks ago so it is good to see them this week and last.”

They are also using the Scotland Sevens squad to help make up the numbers though Hodge admits that with most of the Edinburgh World Cup representation likely to come in the forwards, there is a limit to how much help they can be.

Mesulame Kunavula, the lock/back row, has arrived from Fiji but they are still waiting to see if Eroni Sa’u, the Fijian wing, makes his national World Cup squad after featuring in both the matches against the Maori – a hint of the dilemma over all the players away on World Cup preparations.

“As coach, you want what is best for the individual, and it is important they play for Scotland, but there are certain positions that have been wiped out in portions of the squad,” he said.

“Most teams are the same; you look at the Italians and Leinster and these teams and they are all the same, they will have a lot of guys away as well.

“That whole opening eight to 10 weeks [of the season] is important. You have a block without them and you need to get off to a good start.


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“Then you have a block when they come back but they will all have had different levels of game time and exposure at the World Cup. You have to try to integrate them when there are new calls and potential new systems. It is a tricky period.”

It is also important that they don’t go stale waiting for the action to start, which is why events like tonight’s T20 match at The Grange – with Heart of Scotland, the Brain Tumour Charity and The Ronald McDonald House charities all set to benefit – are such a good break.

“It’s been tough but nothing you wouldn’t expect because that’s what pre-season is supposed to be,” was the verdict from Simon Hickey, the

fly-half who is hoping his schoolboy batting skills have not deserted him.

“We’ve been training hard but we’re slowly starting to get more and more rugby based, which is always enjoyable from a player’s perspective.”