Heriots Captain Jack Turley will make his professional rugby début as he starts for Edinburgh in tomorrow’s Guinness Pro12 match with Leinster in Dublin.
The 25 year-old New Zealander was called up to the side on Wednesday after a number of first choice players were ruled out injured during last week’s European Challenge Cup victory against Lyon.
It’s a far cry from his day job as a furniture removal man, but Turley is delivering some vital relief for Coach Alan Solomons, whose side have been dogged with injuries this season.
Edinburgh lost five players in the opening half an hour at BT Murrayfield last week, including Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist with a broken arm. And having also lost fellow locks Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis as well as Ollie Atkins, Solomons turned to the BT Premiership clubs for support.
“I watched the game between Gala and Heriots and Jack had a reasonable game there” he said.
“He’s an intelligent guy. I saw the guy play. He is a decent footballer”.
“We are decimated at hooker so we couldn’t put James [Hilterbrand] there. So we had to look within the club game in Edinburgh to try and find someone, and Jack at least played with the team on Monday [A game against Ontario Blues]”.
Turley, a product of club rugby in Canterbury, moved to Edinburgh in 2012 with his girlfriend Amy after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011. Originally planning to join Cousin Willie Rowley at Watsonians, he joined rivals Heriots and became captain in his second season.
“My cousin was singing the praises of Edinburgh and playing rugby over here”, said Turley.
“I went from playing 80 minutes against Gala; played the match on Monday for Edinburgh A, and then got a call yesterday morning”, he continued.
“At first I thought it was one of the [Heriots] boys pulling my leg”.
It will certainly be a baptism of fire for Turley in facing the three-time European champions Leinster on their home turf and Solomons knows that.
“It’s been really difficult. We haven’t been able to practice this week. On Monday we did some conditioning games because only had four of our starting XV available for training”, he said.
“On Tuesday we had a much happier day because we had eight”, Solomons continued.
“So the first time the team have had a chance to get together was Thursday”.
But having played with and against some of the best players in the world, there are at least some positives for Solomons to concentrate on after the Autumn Internationals.
“Stuart McInally and Neil [Cochrane] should be back when we return from the break so that helps us. Fraser McKenzie is due to return after the break too” said Solomons.
“Hopefully Alex Toolis and Ollie Atkins will be better after the break as well”.
“Loose forward wise, we will see what we can do. Roddy [Grant] will not be fine after the break, but he will come back the quickest of them”.
With severe limitations in back row and second row positions, Solomons believes tomorrow’s clash with the Irish giants will prove educational for the inexperienced visitors.
“I look at this as a challenge. They are good rugby players and they’ve got to view this as a real opportunity to show their mettle”.
As for Turley, the daunting prospect of facing Leinster at the RDS has not yet hit home, due in part to having virtually no time to think about it.
“Nerves, excitement, I don’t mind the feeling; I kind of enjoy it”, he said. “To be honest I haven’t had the time to worry about them, I’m just focusing on my game”.
“I’ve never been to Ireland before, so this will be a good place to start. It’ll be nice to see how you fare against the big boys”.