As Edinburgh Rugby get ready to head into the unknown this week for the first match of their European Rugby Challenge Cup journey, they may want to seek out the advice of a Scot who is in Romania regarding the opposition.
Acting head coach Duncan Hodge and his charges set off in a few days time for their encounter with Timisoara Saracens on Saturday with little idea of what to expect.
However, former Scotland under-20 cap Michael Doneghan is this season playing for one of Saracens’ biggest rivals Baia Mare.
Having played at Linlithgow, Stewart’s Melville College and Stirling County, Doneghan was involved at Glasgow Warriors and earned a number of age-grade caps before moving south in 2012. He spent a season with Rotherham Titans before moving to London Scottish in the summer of 2013. Two seasons followed there before he spent last season in France.
The centre/winger has settled well in Romania in recent months and said: “It is great, I am loving it here. The rugby culture is pretty similar to back home and the sport seems to be growing here quite quickly.
“I’ve been predominantly playing on the wing and am enjoying it while managing to bag a few tries at the same time. The team are doing really well.
“I was not sure at all what standard that I would find here, but I’d confidently put the Romanian CEC Bank Superliga on a par with the top end of the English Championship in terms of standard.
“Indeed on their day I would say that the top teams over here would be able to compete in the PRO12.
“Timisoara are a good side and they beat us in the league, but we got revenge in the cup recently 14-3 which was a big thing for us as they are one of our biggest rivals.
“I just can’t be certain what Edinburgh can expect from them though because Timisoara have an ability to play various styles of rugby and mix things up.
“One thing that they seem to constantly threaten with is their counter attack and they have very physical and aggressive forwards and some pretty useful backs who can cause danger if they are given a hint of space.
“Like the other clubs here in Romania, they have players at Timisoara who have gained experience in other countries such as France, England and New Zealand while the foreign players will bring a professional edge to their set-up.
“The atmosphere will also be quite good by the time the game comes around because the Romanians are very happy to have a club in this level of competition.”
Doneghan, 25, knows a lot of the Edinburgh players and expects a few texts to be flying back and forth this week.
“I have played a lot of rugby with Glenn Bryce, Sean Kennedy and Duncan Weir while I know Grant Gilchrist, Tom Brown, Stuart McInally and others,” he added.
“I’d be cautious of letting the Timisoara quick guys run on the counter attack. As I say they have some pretty tough forwards too.”
And Doneghan hopes he may well get a chance himself to play in the Challenge Cup with Baia Mare next year.
“We are aiming to win the cup and the league. Next season it would be fantastic if it was Baia Mare in the Challenge Cup representing Romanian rugby,” he said. “Personally, I just want to keep playing so I can be a part of making that dream come true for the club and I think there are exciting times ahead here in the next few years.”