Ndl: Not Dazed Or Confused About Goals

ImageNick De Luca passed a late fitness test to be named in Edinburgh's starting line-up for the visit of Cardiff to Murrayfield on Friday night (28 March, kick off 7.30pm) after suffering a concussion and admits he has perfect clarity about his next objective; to win the midfield battle against Grand Slam hero Tom Shanklin.

De Luca was given the green light to play on Thursday morning after passing a cognitive examination on Wednesday " a result of being on the receiving end of a head-high challenge last Friday, which led to Connacht's Mike McCarthy being banned for four weeks.

Now he has his head focused on stopping Cardiff's all-star midfield of Shanklin, appearing in his first game since Wales" 6 Nations triumph, and former Lions captain Gareth Thomas.

De Luca: 'the team has already talked about the fact Cardiff have got a very big, physical back line, so we will be defending our usual way of tackling low and going in hard.

"We will be looking to stop their momentum and hopefully getting a couple of turnovers.

"My head is fine. I"ve done all the neurological testing and I"ve seen specialists. I"ve done loads of stuff to make sure I"m alright and I"ve passed the tests. That is not an issue for the game and I"m looking forward to it."

It will be the first time De Luca will have pitted his wits against Shanklin since Scotland's defeat at the Millennium Stadium seven weeks ago and he admits he learned a lot from the experience.

He said: "On that day, Gavin Henson and Tom Shanklin played very well together and put us under a lot of pressure in defence. I will be expecting the same from Thomas and Shanklin.

'they are both very experienced, so I will be aiming to help Godders (Phil Godman) out and taking the pressure off him before getting over the gain line. We will be looking to do the simple things well."

Shanklin and Thomas have a combined total of over 150 Test caps while De Luca and centre partner Cairns have an average age of just 23.

Nevertheless Dumfries-born back De Luca believes he has got a sound on-field understanding with Cairns which will stand the double act in good stead against Cardiff.

He said: "Although we are younger than that pair, Ben and I have played together on-and-off for about five years, so we know each other well. Ben is very good at creating space and hopefully I can get the go-forward for our back line at first phase.

'then we can exploit some space out wide with the likes of Webbo (Simon Webster) and Shoe (John Houston) on the wings. Ben and I have played together for a long time now and we don't let many tries in. Hopefully that will continue and we can communicate in the midfield to stop Cardiff's powerful back line."