Kinghorn up for the challenge

Kinghorn up for the challenge

​It has undoubtedly been a period of mixed emotions for fullback Blair Kinghorn who found himself named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team only days after suffering a Semi-Final defeat.

While earning adulation from his opponents and ultimately being selected as the league’s best No. 15 were clearly a landmark moment to savour for Kinghorn – who was also named in the 2017-18 Dream Team – such is the 23-year-old’s driven mentality, that he had already moved on to this weekend’s challenge.

That challenge is another knockout encounter as Edinburgh travel to face Bordeaux-Bègles in a European Challenge Cup Quarter-Final.

The Stage? Stade Chaban Delmas, which looks set to host another physically distanced and altogether partisan crowd following the Top 14 club’s 25-20 win over Brive on Saturday.

It will be the third time this season that Kinghorn will have to face Bordeaux – with the French club topping Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup pool - and while there is an obvious air of familiarity about the match-up, the intensity remains just as ferocious.

“Going away to France is always a tough challenge,” explained Kinghorn. “French teams thrive at home.

“Bordeaux have the highest average attendance in the Top 14 and going there in the pool stages was tough.

“They’ve got some world-class players and they’re a world-class team. It’s a tough place to go but we’ll relish the challenge.”

It is perhaps a positive that following such a disappointing knockout loss, Kinghorn and the capital side have the opportunity to make amends almost immediately.

And Kinghorn insists he and his teammates are desperate to make amends and prove themselves in yet another high profile post-season encounter.

“We had a very honest meeting following the Ulster loss. It was two-and-a-half hours long so it was fairly in-depth.

“It was tough and there were some hard and honest conversations. Cocker said before the meeting it wasn’t going to be easy and he was right.

“But to have the chance to bounce back in such a big and important game straight away is beneficial for us. It’ll help us as a team and as a club and it’ll help us stand up to playing in more of these big games.

“We’ve got another full week of training and everyone is raring to get back out there to show we can perform on the big stage. The last three or four years in the big games, we’ve not done ourselves justice so we want to prove we can perform at these levels and on these big stages.”

Edinburgh will be hoping that it’s third time lucky in Europe under Head Coach Richard Cockerill. The capital side fell short against Cardiff Blues [2018] and Munster [2019], and now face a tough test on French soil.

Kinghorn was part of an Edinburgh side that defeat RC Toulon at Stade Mayol in 2019 and understands what it takes to win when up against the odds.

“I’m going into the match confident. I think we’ve got the ability to turn them over. I fully believe in us.

“I think if you were at the Ulster review meeting, you would be like, ‘Right, we don’t want to be here again, we don’t want to be in this moment again where we’re getting shouted at and we’re hawking the same things that we’ve been through for the last four years’.

“I think everyone’s sick and tired of it. I just feel like we’ve turned a corner. We’ll see at training, but I feel like we know that in these big games it’s just different. Small things matter.

"Some things you can get away with - just say it was a normal league game, Ulster might not have chased that hard because they would have had a losing bonus point. We switched off maybe. Whereas in a big knockout game like that it’s all the little things that matter, and they add up.

“I think we’re turning a corner, personally. I think I speak for the majority of the rest of the team.”

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