Edinburgh: Damien Hoyland backs Blair Kinghorn to fill Duncan Weir void

By Bryn PalmerBBC Scotland Sport
Blair Kinghorn runs with the ball for Edinburgh against Leinster
Kinghorn has been restricted to cameo appearances off the bench so far this season

Edinburgh wing Damien Hoyland has backed 19-year-old Blair Kinghorn to fill the void left by injured Scotland fly-half Duncan Weir.

Weir's absence with a fractured jaw means the capital side will be forced into a change at number 10 for Friday's Pro12 match against Connacht in Galway.

Jason Tovey has returned to training this week after a wrist injury.

But Kinghorn, who replaced Weir against Munster, is in contention for a first senior start at fly-half.

"It is incredible really," Hoyland told BBC Scotland. "I remember when he came straight out of school into the squad and maybe at first he was a little bit quiet and a bit shy. But he has come a long way since then.

"It is incredible when he is on the ball in attack. In training, he is always making line-breaks. He is one of the key players and it will be great to see him get more opportunities.

"He has definitely got a massive future in rugby and he will be carving up teams if he gets the opportunity."

Kinghorn made his first Edinburgh start in October in the corresponding fixture in Galway, but all his eight senior starts so far have come up at full-back.

Blair Kinghorn celebrates Magnus Bradbury's try against Leinster
Kinghorn broke into the Edinburgh team last season alongside fellow youngsters Magnus Bradbury and James Ritchie

However, Hoyland, who played his first game of the season in Limerick after returning from a groin problem, believes the youngster could give the side a different dynamic if he is given his head at 10.

"It is simply how quick he is," the wing added. "He is an attack-minded player and has played on the wing as well.

"So you can imagine, if you put a winger at 10, he is more likely to carry on running.

"But he has got the ability to play 10. You could put him in any back position on the pitch and he would do well.

"Nothing fazes him at all. To be like that at such a young age is a credit to him. It seems like nothing ever fazes him and that is exactly the temperament you need."

After three defeats in their opening four Pro12 matches, Edinburgh are already 10 points adrift of their 'minimum target' of a top-four finish.

Connacht, who stormed to the title last season, find themselves bottom of the table after starting this campaign with three straight defeats.

Damien Hoyland is brought down for Edinburgh against Munster
Hoyland says his first game of the season "felt scrappy in a rugby sense, but it has blown the dust away"

Hoyland believes that, despite the defeats against Leinster and Munster that have followed victory over the Scarlets, Edinburgh are heading in the right direction.

"Although we lost against Munster, if you compare it to previous weeks, I think there is a lot more to take out of it," he added.

"Although we conceded four tries, our defence was a lot better - it was more just silly one-off errors that gave them their tries.

"Our game is improving a lot over the past few weeks. The main thing is we improve again and hopefully that will be enough to beat Connacht.

"It is quite a surprise to see how they've started, but maybe people have clocked on to how they try to play - moving the ball with a lot of width - and teams are defending that a little better and know what to expect.

"Hopefully our game plan and strategy will be enough to put them away."