Battle for places is pushing Edinburgh stars to the limit

Edinburgh's Sean Kennedy, right, limbers up with team-mate John Hardie

Edinburgh's Sean Kennedy, right, limbers up with team-mate John Hardie

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Edinburgh Rugby scrum-half Sean Kennedy believes the competition for starting places throughout the team is pushing players on to go the extra mile to impress acting head coach Duncan Hodge.

In Hodge’s first match in charge at the end of September, Edinburgh lost 28-15 away to Connacht in the Guinness PRO12, but since then they have notched up two wins and scored 16 tries in the process.

The first of those victories came at home to Treviso in the league and was followed up by a European Rugby Challenge Cup triumph in Romania last weekend. Kennedy, 25, started in the match against the Italians before being rested for the Timisoara trip – and now he is itching to take on Harlequins at BT Murrayfield on Saturday in the Challenge Cup.

“I am enjoying my rugby which is good and I just want to keep getting good game time and moving on,” he said.

“I think the more you play the more confidence you get in yourself and you try things that you might not have tried before and they start to come off.

“I don’t think it is a coincidence that guys are starting to try things and create more chances with the competition for spots that there is here now.

“At scrum-half, myself, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Nathan Fowles are always pushing each other on in training and I think it is the same in positions right across the board. I wouldn’t say you have to try ridiculous stuff when you are out there on the pitch, but you have to be sharp and, if there is a gap to take, you have to be positive.

“If you aren’t being pushed for your position you might not see these things because you are comfortable and going through the motions. When being pushed you have to be alert to make sure that you are in the team the following week.”

Kennedy, who won a Scotland ‘A’ cap three years ago, believes that Hodge has changed the mentality of the squad for the better as they prepare to take on the Aviva Premiership side, who could feature former Capital favourite Tim Visser in their ranks.

He explained: “Hodgey has drilled it into us from the start of his time in charge last month that we are not changing what we are doing we are just doing it slightly better.

That is a mentality thing, I think at times before we have gone through the motions, but he has put more emphasis on our decision making.

“He backs us as individuals to make the right decisions at the right time and, if you don’t, then these things have to be looked at.

“It is all about being positive in our game and, if there are opportunities to score tries, we want to take them.

“I think in the past we have coughed up ball and let teams off the hook too easily as well as letting in tries too easily.”