FEATURE | Kinghorn on beards, rehab and World Cup ambitions

With the 2018/19 campaign in the books, the vast majority of Edinburgh’s players are enjoying well-deserved time away from rugby to regroup for the new season ahead.

This isn’t the case for fullback Blair Kinghorn, however. After suffering a season-ending ankle injury playing against Wales in the Guinness Six Nations, the 22-year-old was forced to watch the capital side’s final league fixtures from the sidelines while enduring a strenuous rehab programme.

Now into his eighth week of that rehabilitation, Kinghorn is making great strides in his recovery and hopes to be back to full fitness in the next month – just in time for the beginning of Scotland’s pre-World Cup training camp.

“Just like any rehab, you have your ups and downs,” said Kinghorn, speaking to edinburghrugby.org.

“I’m eight weeks into it now and we’ve got such a good training staff and S&C at Edinburgh. They really look after you.

“It’s quite lonely at the moment, as most of the boys are off on their holidays, so it’s just myself and Lewis Carmichael – it can get quite lonely. We’re keeping each other entertained though – it’s all good!”

The monotonous nature of rehab can certainly lead to boredom, but Kinghorn and his recovery partner Lewis [Carmichael] have certainly found a way to make their time in Edinburgh’s currently vacant gym more interesting.

The duo embarked on a bet to see who could grow their facial hair for the longest period, while weight lifting competitions with Head of Long Term Injuries, Luke Vella, are a regular occurrence in between the brutal recovery sessions.

“Myself and Lewis [Carmichael] had a bet to see who could grow their beards the longest and then it got to the point where we called it quits, shook each other’s hand and said truce,” chucked Kinghorn.

“It was getting to a stage where we both looked disgusting and a bit homeless. Out of a poll vote in the gym, people said that I won… so I’ll take that!

“Lewis [who is currently rehabbing from an ACL injury] returned to running last week which was awesome to see. He’s still got a while to go, but he’s smashing his rehab. He’s going in the right direction that’s for sure.

“Luke Vella has been really good. He trains with us quite a lot so he’s a good guy to bring out that competition in you. We get stuck into him and vice versa. Lewis has been trying to claim he has a better bench press than him too!”

Although Kinghorn admits that the tweak to his ankle was his ‘real injury’ of his professional playing career, there was no doubt that fullback was filled with disappointment to be watching on as Edinburgh faced Munster in the club’s first home Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final in seven long years.

The only saving grace for Kinghorn was that he was able to watch good friend and fellow playmaker, Darcy Graham, make the switch to fullback. And like a duck to water, the former Hawick RFC man was able to fill Kinghorn’s rather large boots with ease.

“Darcy has been brilliant. There were times when I was watching him thinking ‘am I going to every play fullback again!’

“I obviously came through age-grade with him, so to see him get his opportunity and take it was brilliant.

“He played a lot of sevens rugby last year and that has really helped is development – both in attack and defence. You can see that when he gets on the pitch and gets ball in hand, the crowd are on their feet and the defenders around him are running scared.

“You just don’t know what he’s going to bring and he can change direction so quickly. It’s been brilliant to see that development come to the fold.”

With Kinghorn’s focus switching to August’s World Cup warm-up matches and the main event itself in August, the fullback admits that he was ‘over the moon’ to be once again selected for his country.

It has been four years since Kinghorn signed his first professional contract with Edinburgh and all roads have been leading to Japan since his inaugral season in the capital.

“I was over the moon to be selected for that World Cup training squad. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about in terms of my own career, but I just can’t wait to get back fit and go into that camp all guns blazing.

“That was my first season at Edinburgh during the 2015 World Cup, so I remember watching it back then as a first-year pro down at the Edinburgh Accies clubhouse. It’s amazing to think four years down the line you’re invited to a World Cup training camp!”