Edinburgh prop crisis for Challenge Cup after request for extra player is refused

By Bryn PalmerBBC Scotland Sport
Jordan Lay in action for Edinburgh against Southern Kings
Jordan Lay made his full debut last week against Southern Kings after signing on a short-term deal
European Challenge Cup: Edinburgh v Stade Francais
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium Date: Friday, 12 January Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website

Edinburgh have had a request to register an extra prop for the rest of the European Challenge Cup pool phase refused by tournament organisers.

The capital side asked for special dispensation to register recent signing Jordan Lay with four front-line props injured and Simon Berghan banned.

The four on duty against Stade Francais on Friday are the only ones registered for European competition.

Any further injuries could lead to uncontested scrums in the return match.

The two teams will face each other again in their final pool match in Paris on 20 January.

"We asked for Jordan Lay to come in as an extra player, but it is not part of the regulations," explained head coach Richard Cockerill.

"We made a request for an exception, but it was knocked back. The rules are the rules, and you have to go by them.

"But our injury issues and suspension are pretty unusual. I just hope we don't have to go to uncontested scrums because one of our guys is injured."

Loose-head trio Darryl Marfo, Allan Dell and Alasdair Dickinson, plus tight-head WP Nel are all injured, while Berghan is serving a six-game ban until 4 February.

Elliot Millar-Mills, another recent arrival who was signed to provide tight-head cover until the end of the season, is - like Lay - not registered for European competition.

Rory Sutherland and Murray McCallum start against Stade on Friday, with Matt Shields and Kevin Bryce on the bench.

Kevin Bryce playing for Edinburgh against Ospreys
Bryce playing against Ospreys in last season's Pro12

Cockerill also reported that centre Phil Burleigh, who made his Scotland debut against Australia in November, has joined Edinburgh's injury list, with Chris Dean joining fit-again Mark Bennett in midfield.

Despite their shortage of cover in the front row, with converted hooker Bryce making a rare appearance in the match-day 23, Cockerill is upbeat about claiming the victory that would give his side a home quarter-final.

"If we put our best game out there, we are good enough to beat them," he said. "But if we allow them to impose themselves on us, they are good enough to beat us.

"Stade are not at full strength but it is still a pretty good side and they can still qualify for the quarter-finals. Two wins would put them in first or second place.

"We won't be taking them lightly. They have picked a good squad and maybe they will look at this as an opportunity to kick-start their season.

"We have to be careful we don't think they are going to turn up and roll over, because I don't think they will."

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