Kinghorn looks for ultimate birthday surprise

Kinghorn looks for ultimate birthday surprise

Edinburgh fullback Blair Kinghorn turns 22 on Friday, and the best birthday present the talented Scotland cap could wish for is to help the club through to the Heineken Champions Cup knock-out stages for the first time since 2012.

The side go into Friday’s clash with Montpellier on top of Pool 5 on 19 points with the French side second on 16.

A fifth victory from six in a group which also includes Newcastle Falcons and Toulon would guarantee Edinburgh a home quarter-final.

When they went to Montpellier in round one of fixtures back in mid-October, Edinburgh secured a losing bonus point from a 21-15 defeat at the GGL Stadium and it gave the players real belief that they could mix it with the big boys.

Their 28-17 triumph over Toulon in the Stade Felix-Mayol last weekend surprised many, but perhaps not those who have watched head coach Richard Cockerill mould this side into his own over the last 18 months.

Kinghorn, a local lad who had just turned 15 the last time the club reached the knock-out stages of this competition, said: “We know as a squad what we’re capable of and I think we’re showing that in games.

“Our recent form has been really good, we’re working really hard in training and it’s paying off in the games, so we’ll do the same this week again hopefully.

“Over in Toulon last weekend they scored quite early, but everyone stayed calm because we believe in our collective abilities.

“In terms of my try, well it was a good set piece move and then JJ [James Johnstone] just produced a brilliant bit of skill, he dropped it on his toe and it sat up nicely for me. I’ll take it, but it’s all down to Jimmy.

“I think it was a massive score in my career so far, especially coming near the start of the second half.

“It was a good momentum shifter that meant we were playing on the front foot straightaway in the second 40 minutes.”

Having been educated in the city, Kinghorn has been an Edinburgh supporter for as long as he can remember and thinks the buzz around the club now is as good as it has ever been.

“The club’s going in a great direction and I think we’re creating more of a community feel with our fans,” he said.

“We had a lot of travelling support away in Toulon which was brilliant. You could hear them all around the stadium, so, I think we’re all really excited about that, but we just need to keep focused on the job in hand and get ourselves through to the last eight of this big tournament for now.

“Montpellier have a lot of world class individuals, but they’re fairly similar to Toulon in terms of the fact that their forward pack is big and powerful.

“We’ve looked at them and we’ll look at them in more detail as kick-off approaches, but it is quite helpful having played another big French team the week beforehand while we took a lot of notes from the pool match against them before Christmas.

“I think it would be massive if both ourselves and Glasgow can get through to the knock-out stages.

“Scottish rugby’s going up and up, performances from both teams are getting more consistent.

“A lot of people used to see Edinburgh as the underdogs and Glasgow as the ones out in front, but I feel that with our form and the way that we’re playing we’re getting back up there.

“It would be good to see both Scottish teams in the quarter-finals, but we need to do a job first and foremost on Friday for ourselves.”

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