Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons has been delighted with the form shown by his players who have been instrumental in helping the Scottish national squad reach the last eight of the Rugby World Cup.
And the South African believes that when they rejoin the Capital club after the showpiece event their presence will give a big boost to a group of players already riding high in the Guinness PRO12 championship.
Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, David Denton and Matt Scott all started in Scotland’s tense Pool B win over Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle at the weekend.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne also got a run out in the third pool match against South Africa just over a week ago and Solomons believes his men have given a good account of themselves as they get ready for Australia at Twickenham this Sunday.
“Scotland did well to come through the Samoa match and I thought the front-row of Dickinson, Ford and Nel continued their good form and they have given Scotland a solid platform as they have moved through the last few weeks,” Solomons said.
“I think David Denton has been outstanding, he hit form in the warm-up matches and has kept that going. It was good to see Matty [Scott] get another start under his belt and he is looking confident.
“Sam will be enjoying the whole experience while it was very disappointing that Gilcho [Grant Gilchrist] got injured in the second match [against the USA] because he was really looking good up to that point.”
Before the tournament Stuart McInally, another Edinburgh player, was forced to pull-out of Scotland’s squad due to injury while the hopes harboured by Ben Toolis of a call-up to replace Gilchrist were scuppered when the Australian-born player was hurt in the PRO12 match against Bennetton Treviso last month.
They are both likely to be out for extended spells, but centre/winger Will Helu is back in training at BT Murrayfield having represented Tonga at the World Cup and he could be soon set for his competitive debut.
Edinburgh’s next match is on Friday night at home to Ulster at BT Murrayfield when they will be looking to make it four wins from four in the league. With the start of the domestic pro season having been a bit sporadic so far due to the ongoing World Cup the match marks the beginning of 16 weeks in a row when Edinburgh will be in action in the PRO12 or the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Solomons knows that his squad will be tested with injuries and such like during that spell which runs until the end of January. But he feels that when the Scotland players return it will be like new signings arriving as reinforcements.
“I take my hat off to the guys that are still here and the way we played in the first three matches this season left me pleased, but there is no doubt that the more quality you have around the more you get out of the group,” he stated.
“Of course we do not know when the Scotland guys will come back to us as yet, but when they do, and they are ready to play again after a rest, then it will just increase further the competition for places.
“They will also be able to share their experiences from the World Cup.
“However, that is still quite a way down the line and we will deal with it when it comes. For now myself and the guys are focused on what will be a tough test against Ulster. We defeated them in pre-season and that will have given the boys a lift, but we all know this match will be much tougher.”
Solomons reported that back-row Nasi Manu has recovered from injury and will come into contention for a place in the starting XV.