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Du Preez poised for return

Edinburgh forward Cornell du Preez could return to action on Friday night following a six-month absence after initially fearing his season was over.

But the South African knows the occasion is much more important for the club than himself personally as Edinburgh bid to get past Dragons at Murrayfield and into the final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Du Preez suffered an open dislocation of his ankle during a victory over Dragons in October and has been named on the bench as Edinburgh bid to become the first Scottish club to reach a European final.

The back-row forward told Press Association Sport: "Initially I wasn't going to play this season because the injury was pretty bad but the physios and conditioning staff have got me back to a decent level so I am back sooner than I thought.

"Mentally that plays a big role just being back with the boys, being able to play rugby and doing what I love.

"I have been back training for a while and I am 100 per cent good to go.

"It's been six months so on a personal level it's good to be back but this is huge for Edinburgh in general.

"I try not to become too emotional about things and just go out and and handle it like it's any other game.

"But it isn't like any other game to be honest because it's knockout rugby and we have to play it in a Test match situation. The boys are up for it."

Edinburgh came close to making the more prestigious Heineken Cup final in 2012 before losing 22-19 to Ulster in the semi-finals and du Preez knows that going one better could be a launch pad for future success.

The former Eastern Province Kings player said: "At home we won the Currie Cup (First Division title) in 2012 so I have done it once and it would be good to do it again.

"You create a good support base when you start winning competitions so it could do be a big thing for the club if we do well in this competition.

"I think there were 38,000 people at that (Heineken Cup) quarter-final against Toulouse and that's what we need to see us through."

Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau has tasted even more success in his career and he is hungry for more.

The 24-year-old Wales international has two RBS 6 Nations titles to his name as well as a British and Irish Lions tour triumph but club success would still be special.

Faletau told the European Rugby cup website: "It would be something special to win a European cup with the Dragons.

"It's new for me to come back from the Six Nations to the Dragons with something to play for.

"I've never had anything like this - it's exciting stuff. Success would mean a lot to me. Since I started here all I have wanted for the club is success."

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has made five changes to his side, with David Denton dropping out with concussion and captain Mike Coman coming back from injury at number eight. Stuart McInally comes in for the injured Hamish Watson in the only other personnel change to the pack.

Backs Jack Cuthbert, Sam Beard and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne return while full-back Greig Tonks misses out with a hamstring injury.

The Newport-Gwent side have made just one change with Dan Way coming in at tighthead prop.


From Belfast Telegraph