Press Pass with Calum MacRae

Press Pass with Calum MacRae

Get the latest from Defence Coach Calum MacRae as he spoke with press ahead of Monday night's Guinness PRO14 match-up with Cardiff Blues at Arms Park.

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On Pierre Schoeman's injury

“It was a bit of a scare at the weekend, because we felt it could have been quite a significant injury. But as it’s been assessed it turns out it isn’t as significant as first thought, so we’re really pleased it’s potentially only four to six weeks.

“He got caught at a strange angle on a tackle - he got caught from behind and it looked a really awkward tackle. It is really disappointing that we’ve lost him for these four to six weeks, however, it could have been a lot worse so we have to count our blessings on that.

“He’s basically twisted his knee. I couldn’t give you much anatomical detail, I just know it’s a four-to-six-week injury. He’s a great pro, he’s a really positive individual, and I know if anyone will get back from injury quickly in terms of application in their rehab, he will be right at the head of that.

On Boan Venter stepping up

“Boan came off the bench - I thought he did a really good job. We’ve recruited him because we see a huge amount of quality in him, and I thought he’s acquitted himself really well in the game time he’s had for the club so far.

“He’s still finding his feet around certain parts, but his ceiling is really high. It’s obviously disappointing for Pierre, but it’s an opportunity for a quality player that we’ve recruited.”

On the timely arrival of Boan Venter

“With props being a premium on the international front and a number of them away in camp, it’s really important to make sure we’ve got the appropriate depth to remain competitive.

“We see a huge amount of potential in Boan, not only now but for the longer term as part of the succession plan to keep us competitive.

“First and foremost, we want to support the national team to make them successful. But in order to win games in the PRO14, we need to bring in guys like Boan who help keep us competitive on that level, alongside the young quality Scottish players that we have.”

On the availability of Edinburgh's looseheads

“You’re testing me on the difference between No.1 and 3! Boan is fit and we have some of the younger guys like Sam Grahamslaw who will be the next guy in.

"He’s featured on the bench a couple of times. Normally the Super6 would be a great avenue for these guys but that’s not transpired because of the circumstances.

"So for Edinburgh it’s about getting the balance right between blooding young players where appropriate while staying as competitive as possible so we can make the Champions Cup next season.”

On match preparation with no clarity on European places

“I think at this stage, because of the way things have gone, we can only deal with the rugby we’ve got this week.

"We prepared really, really well knowing what the conditions would be going to Connacht, we had a really specific game plan, we knew it was going to be tough in that first half and I thought Charlie [Shiel], for example, managed it really well considering how tough the wind was.

“We made incremental gains up the field that he had a hand in. The 90 per cent - 10 per cent territory in that first 20 minutes said a lot about the game, but I thought when we turned the corner in the second half we stuck in it.

"We were really disciplined in that last 20 minutes when it was a six-to-nil penalty count, and that gave us the foothold to actually get the field positions to then go and finish the game off.

“I can’t emphasise enough the quality of the work that the boys put in and how hard they stuck on task to get that result.

“So yes, it is a challenge, to answer your question, because everyone wants to know what their objectives and goals are.

"But at the same time we know that if we’ve got any aspirations to be in the Champions Cup next year, it has to be a win this weekend, and we’ll prepare exactly the same as we did last week away to Connacht."

On the importance of Monday night's trip to Cardiff

“Teams who are around you in the Conference table – you’re looking to see how their results go.

"So Cardiff and Scarlets are in our crosshairs as we’ve got to make up on both those teams. Does it make Monday’s game more important? Absolutely as they are in our conference. And we have to chalk off teams in our conference first and foremost.

“Cardiff are a quality team and have a real aggressive attacking brand of rugby. We’ve looked objectively at this game to see how we can contain certain parts of their attack so we can apply pressure and nullify their threats.”

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