Heineken Cup semi will come too soon for King

James King's Edinburgh comeback has been delayed
James King's Edinburgh comeback has been delayed

RUGBY: James King is almost ready to play pro rugby again after missing most of 2012 through injury, but Edinburgh’s massive Heineken Cup semi-final against Ulster will come too soon for the former Berwick player.

The 26-year-old centre was due to make his long-awaited comeback at No13 in the defeat to Cardiff on Sunday, but failed to come through the team run and was withdrawn from the starting line-up. He has been out of action since January with a groin injury that required surgery, but said on his Twitter account that he “hopes it is just a small setback” and that it is “hopefully nothing serious.”

Although Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley said before the Cardiff game that his Heineken Cup semi-final squad is not set in stone, after spending so long on the sidelines King probably had only an outside chance at best of forcing his way into contention for such a big game.

Bradley opted to rest most of his key men against Cardiff in order to keep them fresh for the trip to Ulster this weekend. That means King and lock Steven Turnbull, who made his comeback from an ankle injury against Cardiff, are expected to miss out against Ulster on April 28.

Bradley said before the Cardiff game: “James and Steven are in good shape having done a lot of work behind scenes. The timing of their return is good. I’m looking forward to seeing James play because he is buzzing in training.”

The latest setback is a cruel blow for King. He had been on a run of six starts from seven games before pulling up in the home clash with Ulster in early January. Even when Matt Scott was available, he was a preferred option alongside Nick De Luca at centre.

What followed after his injury was a trip to Leicester-based surgeon David Lloyd, whose patients include Welsh wing wizard Shane Williams, Irish scrum half Eoin Reddan and a string of English footballers.

King explained: “Mr Lloyd has a good pedigree and for the last three weeks I’ve been getting more and more up to scratch.

“My injury was a long-term thing based on a ligament problem and had been bothering me for a while. There is only so much fitness work you can do and the aim now is to make the squad for the big one.

“It’s a relief to no longer be consigned to watching from the sidelines, but first things first and I have to get out there and come through injury free while hopefully making a good impact. Do that and everything will take care of itself.”