A look at the recent storming performances of Junior Rasolea and the emerging leading figure of Fraser McKenzie, and also how these two men could help Edinburgh Rugby in its 2017/18 campaign. By Erin McRitchie
Fraser McKenzie is a highly experienced lock forward who started his career at Edinburgh with a spell from 2006 to 2011, before returning to the capital outfit in 2014. So far this season, head coach Richard Cockerill has backed McKenzie to play in four of of his team’s six fixtures.
McKenzie played for the Scottish Academy under 19, under 20 and Scotland A levels – and it was during his Academy days that he claimed the under 20s captaincy. McKenzie left Edinburgh in 2011 having gained 28 caps, going on to play for Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons before making his 2014 return to Edinburgh.
Since 2014, McKenzie has consistently performed well and steadily added to his cap haulage – he is now able to boast 85 – with some being gained with him named as captain.
Abrasive in his tackles, strict in his lineout play and determined in defence, McKenzie is a level head amongst the forward pack of Edinburgh. Not a player known for his moments in the spotlight, McKenzie prefers to keep his head down and focus on defending his line.
All in all, McKenzie is a fan favourite, with his appearance in a team line-up always being well received. With his calm demeanour, perhaps McKenzie’s level head is exactly what Edinburgh Rugby need in the trying times of club development.
Junior Rasolea, meanwhile, is a fast paced and striking back, able to play at centre or wing. The Australian joined the capital club in 2016 on a two-year deal from Western Force in the Super Rugby competition.
His career so far has seen him represent Fiji at under 20 level, before switching to playing for Australia in the World Rugby Sevens circuit.
Rasolea is an exciting wing, who thrives on playing with ball in hand, nipping through any small gap in the opposition line. This skill has seen him snag two tries already, as well as a man of the match award in Edinburgh colours.
As Edinburgh seem to be aiming to improve their game-reading skills and, furthermore, their reactions as a team, perhaps the quick-stepping nature of Rasolea’s game will only be helpful.
It must be remembered that Rasolea is used to the fast-paced, hard-hitting style of play that the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby league is well-renowned for. Due to this, he could provide a different kind of insight on how to best adapt play to different oppositions, in order to come out as the winning side.
Any team will always benefit from a shot of electricity produced by a fast-paced back, so combining this with the technical play executed by forwards like McKenzie can result in a recipe for success.
At the heart of Edinburgh Rugby is a culture of determination and guts. Those last ditch attempts for the line. Those heart stopping moments of will they-won’t they. Those moments of adulation when they capture a nail biting win.
The strong performances of players such as Fraser McKenzie and Junior Rasolea will only serve Edinburgh well in their quest to prove to fans throughout the Guinness Pro 14 that they are a team that can put in performances to contend with the top teams.