Ground-breaking Edinburgh Accies utility back Nyle Godsmark insists the club are ready to put lessons learned from a daunting British & Irish Cup campaign into effect – starting at home to Heriot’s when the Scottish Premiership comes out of cold storage tomorrow.
Godsmark, the only back from the Capital to be included in the Scottish Clubs’ international team for a run-out against Scottish Under-20s this week in preparation for the representative campaign, says: “It’s been good experience playing London Welsh, London Scottish and Pontypridd professionals home and away but hard also getting pumped every week.
“London Welsh were particularly physical and Pontypridd a class act in attack but there are positives to be taken overall.
“We are used to greater intensity and a faster pace, while reducing the margin of defeat over the two home games by more than half is a source of encouragement.”
The clubs’ team open their two-match campaign away to Ireland on February 7 but Godsmark, while hoping for the call either at full back or wing, refuses to be distracted.
“Accies still have work to do to preserve our Premiership place and if we eventually finish in the top four for next season’s B&I Cup that will be a bonus.
“There’s a lot of rugby to be played, though, with a Scottish Cup quarter-final at home to Aberdeen Grammar although this season is already memorable. Over the festive period I was able to play with my two brothers, Alex and Ryan, for the first time when Accies took on the Co-Optimists.”
Visitors Heriot’s, although five points behind league leaders Gala, who have a game in hand, refuse to throw in the towel and will want to develop momentum going into their Cup quarter-final away to Melrose on February 15.
“We are still very much aiming to challenge for the league and will be pushing for this up until the final game,” said coach Phil Smith, who is delighted by the return of Scotland clubs’ international back row Jason Hill after three months out.
Glasgow hooker Kevin Bryce has fulfilled a loan deal at London Irish and is available to sit on the bench alongside newly re-signed Edinburgh scrum half, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Currie coach Ally Donaldson, meanwhile, today welcomed the availability of professional second rows Sean Cox (Edinburgh) and Jonny Gray (Glasgow) as the Malleny Park side attempt to distance themselves from the only team below them in the Premiership, Aberdeen Grammar FPs, at home tomorrow.
Both players strong Currie connections and Donaldson, whose team could also move out of the play-off spot with a win should Stirling slip up at home to Hawick, is banking on that experience reinforcing hopes with only four fixtures remaining. Said Donaldson: “Firstly we haven’t had a lot of pros made available to us this season, but having Sean and Jonny can make a big difference. Sean has been involved coaching us this season, while we had Jonny on release last season when he was entering the season game and on the way to Scotland caps against South Africa and Australia in the Autumn.”
Gray will captain Scotland A against England Saxons next Friday.
As for Cox, it seems he has fallen out of favour at Edinburgh despite being the star of the opening Heineken European Cup win at home to Munster.
Similarly, his last four appearances – against Treviso, Zebre, Connacht and Leinster – have helped produce wins but he has yet to be involved in 2014.
Donaldson added: “Sean has been complementing Edinburgh colleague Ben Cairns in assisting with our coaching and his message is really getting through now. He has one eye on a future in coaching and we are delighted that he’ll finally be pulling on our jersey.
“Our first win of this season (at the sixth attempt) came at Aberdeen, but it goes without saying we’ll take nothing for granted. There’s no question we are still in a lot of trouble, but we are getting players back from injury including Joe Reynolds, Malcolm Peacock and Mike Vernal.”
In fact, Joe Reynolds starts his first league match since that visit to Aberdeen while hooker Dave Cherry comes back after missing the Edinburgh Regional Cup final defeat against Heriot’s.
In the National League, second place Watsonians await Kelso, with Clarke Smith set to return from injury, although Tom Hart misses out through injury. Leaders Boroughmuir and third place Stewart’s Melville are also at home against Selkirk and Hillhead/Jordanhill respectively.
Roddy Mackenzie and Will Kay return to the Boroughmuir squad after injury. Magnus Bradbury is unavailable and replaced by Joni Hare at flanker.