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Gunners Gear Up For The New Season

Edinburgh Gunners coach Frank Hadden today praised his players and fitness staff for the shape in which his squad approaches the forthcoming season.

Some 12 players have been ruled out of the Gunners' first warm-up game - against Leeds Tykes away on Saturday - primarily with minor ailments but Hadden remains upbeat about the campaign ahead.

"We've ticked our fitness box," the coach enthused. "We're going to be in tremendous physical condition this year and that (fitness) cannot be an excuse."

Hadden also spoke positively on the depth and quality of his squad, the latest addition to which is Fijian World Cup Sevens winner, Apolosi Satala.

Back-row forward Satala, 27 on Sunday, has recently returned from XV-a-side duty with Fiji in their World Cup qualifiers against Tonga and Samoa.

A serving solider with The Royal Scots, Satala has been released to the Gunners temporarily and will be available unless required by the Army for rugby or operational duties.

Satala's presence is a boon for the Gunners as back-row forwards Dave Callam (stomach), Alan MacDonald (shoulder), Todd Blackadder (tonsillectomy) and Simon Taylor (hamstring) are all among the injured.

Gunners' rehab physiotherapist Stephen Mutch said Taylor's injury was frustrating for the player as he had enjoyed a good pre-season's fitness work after his enforced departure from the Lions tour to New Zealand.

"Simon was running freely on Monday when he over-reached in a contact situation which was disappointing given the quality of his pre-season.

"He's currently on a recovery programme and will be subject to further assessment next week," Mutch explained.

Gunners have listed a 27 strong squad for the game against the Tykes and Hadden intends to swap his players around as he strives to find the best combination for the start of the Celtic League next month. All Blacks prop Dave Hewett and Argentine full-back Francisco Leonelli thus look certain to make their debuts.

Hadden also announced today that Chris Paterson will be the Gunners captain this season with his international colleague, Scott Murray, vice-captain.

Paterson said: "I'm excited, the same as everyone else at Edinburgh. We're just desperate to play games and desperate to put into action the fitness we've been put through."

Edinburgh Gunners squad to play Leeds Tykes
Saturday 13 August, KO 3.30pm, Headingley

Mike Blair
Ben Cairns
Nick De Luca
Rob Dewey
Matt Dey
Marcus Di Rollo
Phil Godman
Duncan Hodge
Rory Lawson
Francisco Leonelli
Chris Paterson ©
Simon Webster

Grant Anderson
Simon Cross
Alasdair Dickinson
Dougie Hall
Dave Hewett
Allister Hogg
Allan Jacobsen
Alastair Kellock
Steven Lawrie
Matt Mustchin
Fergus Pringle
Ross Rennie
Apolosi Satala
Alasdair Strokosch
Steven Turnbull

Not considered due to injury
Peter Jorgensen (calf - expected to be available for next week)
David McCall (shoulder - expected to be available for next week)
Tom Philip (long-term absent but recovering well from back operation)
Michael Pyke (hamstring - expected to be available for next week)
Hugo Southwell (fractured finger - expected to be available for next week)

Todd Blackadder
David Callam
Andrew Kelly (recovering from knee surgery - expected to be available for start of Celtic League)
Alan MacDonald (shoulder - expected to be available in September)
Scott Murray (swollen knee - expected to be available for next week)
Craig Smith (recovering from shoulder surgery - expected to be available for next week)
Simon Taylor

Players released to clubs
Jamie Blackwood (Part time professional)
Andrew Easson (Full time apprentice)
Ander Monro (Full time professional)
Kyle Traynor (Part time apprentice)