Ben out to cause double trouble for Frenchmen at Murrayfield

EDINBURGH Rugby star Ben Gissing today challenged his side to complete a rare European Cup double when entertaining Castres Olympique at Murrayfield tonight.

The Capital outfit cannot qualify but are stressing the need to maintain momentum for the resumption of the Celtic League as well as looking to boost their chances of a preferential seeding in future European tournaments.

This is reflected in second row Gissing's demand that Edinburgh go where only five of their previous sides have gone in 70 matches in taking home-and-away scalpsm, bearing in mind Castres were beaten 13-6 at the Stade-Pierre Antoine last October.

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Ebbw Vale, Neath, Northampton, Leeds and Ospreys are the teams whom Edinburgh have taken win points off in two group games and Gissing said: "Doing the double is something we are capable of, although it is going to take a bit of hard work.

"Finishing third is our aim, especially as we don't know for certain how Castres (who cannot qualify either) will approach things."

If Edinburgh do leapfrog their Gallic foes then, depending on the outcome of concluding pool clashes next week, they will have surpassed their efforts in six out of 11 previous Euro campaigns.

As for whether this is the Euro swansong for New Zealand-born Gissing, 33, at Murrayfield, he admits all options are open in approaching the end of the contract which brought him from Italian rugby a couple of years ago. But in saying that, there is a strong hint that, all things being equal, he could remain.

"I'll have to wait and see what the coaching staff want to do.

"My family and I are having a great time and I'm really enjoying coaching Stewart's/Melville.

"I want to play on for another couple of years – I believe I have two good seasons left in me – and after that could move more into coaching.

"People recognise there is a lack of quality coaching in Scotland so far as people from a professional background are concerned. Maybe I'll look then at coaching full-time," says the man who is set to make his 25th Euro appearance tonight.

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Meanwhile, Edinburgh will take the field tonight with one member of the last Scotland starting line-up – Mike Blair – on the bench and with coach Andy Robinson having to deny that strings are being pulled higher up as the Six Nations Championship approaches.

Robinson said: "These decisions are made to see how these players respond in order to impress Rob (Moffat) and myself for Edinburgh moving forward.

"These decisions are not made so the players can impress the Scottish selectors.

"They are about the Edinburgh players, where we are, what we have to do this week, next week and looking at where we are during the Six Nations when we have two games and then when the full squad come back."

Eyebrows had also been raised by the recent demotion of Nick De Luca, only for the Scotland centre to bounce back after a one-game stint on the bench.

Again, Robinson said it was part of Edinburgh's management policy uninfluenced by the Scotland set-up. "It is down to Nick's consistency during the year apart from one game. That is how you deal with some players, you take it away from them, see how they respond. You dangle the carrot knowing what is coming up" he said, explaining the decision to alter a winning three-quarter line by leaving out John Houston.

Meanwhile, Castres have made 13 changes from the starting line-up beaten 10-9 by Biarritz in the French Championship last time out. The only survivors are back rowers Steve Malonga and Leiataua Tomiki.