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The makeshift Edinburgh plan with Wes Goosen joining casualty list

By Bryn Palmer
Edinburgh's Wes Goosen goes on the attack (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Edinburgh will be forced to field a makeshift full-back for their crunch final game of the United Rugby Championship regular season at Benetton on Saturday after Wes Goosen joined their mounting list of back-three casualties.

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The versatile South African-born New Zealander has been a pillar of consistency for the capital side this season, winning the players’ player of the year award.

But the specialist wing, who has started Edinburgh’s last seven games at full-back amid Emiliano Boffelli’s back issues which have ruled him out for the rest of the campaign, was forced off injured in the 29-26 home defeat by Munster on May 17.

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Stormers Director of Rugby John Dobson looks forward to his team’s URC face-off with the Lions

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Stormers Director of Rugby John Dobson looks forward to his team’s URC face-off with the Lions

Head coach Sean Everitt revealed Goosen suffered a foot fracture which will keep him out for at least the Benetton clash and any URC quarter-final, should his side seal a top-eight spot in the final round of regular-season games.

With Boffelli and Darcy Graham also sidelined and the emerging Harry Paterson – who made a shock Scotland debut at full-back against France during the Six Nations – still at least a week away from returning from a quad injury, Everitt will be forced to redeploy either one of his frontline centres or back-up fly-half Cammy Scott in the No15 jersey in Treviso.

Fixture
United Rugby Championship
Benetton
31 - 6
Full-time
Edinburgh
All Stats and Data

“It’s one of the small bones in Wes’ foot, so unfortunately he is not available this week, and not available next week either,” Everitt explained about Goosen’s injury. “We’ll see how that heals. So once again, in the back-three we are a bit short, but we have guys who can come in to play there.

“We have got options at full-back. (Centre) Mark Bennett has played there before, Cammy Scott as well, and (centre) James Lang, so we will see how they all go in training this week and make a late call on Thursday.”

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One bright spot for Everitt among his depleted back-three resources is the return of young wing Jake Henry, who is available again after a six-week absence with a hamstring problem. He is likely to go straight back into the match-day 23, given Edinburgh have already been forced to use centre Matt Currie on the wing for three of their last four games.

But Everitt remains sanguine about the situation despite having to do without some of his leading back-three operators for large chunks of the season, a factor which may partly explain why they have secured only three four-try bonus points in the league and are vulnerable to missing out on the quarter-finals if they are beaten by eighth-placed Benetton.

“Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the game, and injuries do occur,” Everitt said. “You don’t want the injuries all in the same position but that is what we have been dealt with. There is no doubt that losing world-class players of the calibre of Darcy Graham and Emiliano Boffelli, and one of our nominees for player of the season in Wes Goosen, is tough for us.

“We’ll make a plan. We’re not looking for excuses. We’re fortunate we have got members of the squad who can fill those positions, so we are not panicking.”

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Edinburgh have not won since October 2017 at Benetton’s Stadio Comunale di Monigo, where the Italian outfit have lost only once – to Glasgow – in 12 matches this season. They also prevailed 24-22 in the return fixture in Edinburgh back in November.

But despite their recent record against the Italians and the setback of that home defeat by Munster last time out, Everitt is confident his side will relish the do-or-die nature of Saturday’s fixture, where one team could knock the other out of the play-off places.

“The team is on a high,” added the head coach. “We’ve improved every week and are starting to really perform at the right time. It is a big challenge going to Benetton, but we know it is a challenge we can overcome.

“Maybe an extra point out of that Munster game would have made things a little easier going into this last round but it wouldn’t have taken away the need to win.

“This team can thrive under pressure and it brings out the best in us, when you look at the performance in the EPCR (Challenge Cup) when we had to go to Scarlets and win there, and we performed really well. Similarly, post-EPCR we had to perform really well to win those games at home in the URC to keep ourselves in the hunt and we were able to do that.

“It’s a difficult place to go and play rugby, Benetton have passionate supporters and a team who bring a lot of passion and emotion on the day, so we have to overcome that. But if we perform well as a group and play as well as we did against Munster then we should be in with a shot on Saturday.”

United Rugby Championship

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Munster
17
12
4
1
63
2
Bulls
17
12
5
0
61
3
Leinster
17
12
5
0
60
4
Glasgow
17
12
5
0
60
5
Stormers
17
11
6
0
54
6
Ulster
17
11
6
0
53
7
Edinburgh
17
11
6
0
49
8
Benetton
17
10
6
1
49
9
Lions
17
9
8
0
49
10
Connacht
17
9
8
0
45
11
Ospreys
17
9
8
0
45
12
Cardiff Rugby
17
4
12
1
30
13
Sharks
17
4
13
0
25
14
Scarlets
17
4
13
0
22
15
Gwent Dragons
17
3
14
0
16
16
Zebre
17
1
15
1
15
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Comments

1 Comment
C
Craig 25 days ago

Wes Goosen comes from very good rugby stock with his moms brothers Gavin Sabbagh and Mike Sabbagh playing rugby for Border in East London.
I played rugby with the Sabbagh boys and Gavin should have been a Springbok centre.
Enjoy watching Wes reminds me of Gavin.
His mom Kim played Border Hockey.

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