Wing Tom Brown believes Edinburgh “belong” back at the top table of Europe and says the players will expend every last ounce of energy trying to achieve that over what remains of the Guinness Pro12 season.
A dogged 16-15 win at Newport Gwent Dragons on Sunday leaves Alan Solomons’ side just outside the top half of table, where Edinburgh need to finish if they are to play in the elite European Champions Cup next term.
With Italian strugglers Zebre next up at BT Murrayfield on Friday it is imperative to continue the momentum with a big performance. Brown said: “Getting back into that Champions Cup is massive and so important for the club. It would raise the profile and as a team it’s where we feel we belong.
“We set goals at the start of the season and that was definitely one of the main ones, so there is a massive focus on making sure we do that and get back into the top tier.”
The 25-year-old has experience of a Heineken Cup semi-final in 2012 and after a couple of seasons in the second-tier Challenge Cup – reaching the final last year before a pool-stage exit this season – feels it is time to get back among the big boys.
“If you look over the past three years it’s clear we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “There is a real good atmosphere here at the moment and a sense of expectation about the next couple of years ahead.
“We’ve shown in parts this season what we can do and we just need to get the consistency up there. There’s been a couple of results we’ve been disappointed with but I think we have real potential as a club.
“This World Cup season has tested our strength in depth but it’s been positive having the young lads coming up and getting some game time. That will put us in good stead for the next couple of seasons.”
Brown has been one of Edinburgh’s most eyecatching performers this season after bouncing back from an injury-ravaged couple of years and must be in with a chance of making Scotland’s tour to Japan and possibly adding to the solitary cap he won in the historic victory over Australia in Newcastle, New South Wales, almost four years ago.
Brown played in Japan at the Junior World Cup in 2011, but it is very much at the back of his mind as the desire for a strong finish to the domestic season holds sway.
“My main focus is on Edinburgh,” insisted Brown. “There is a big task ahead of us but whatever comes off the back of it will happen. I’m just looking individually to bring my best performance to Edinburgh and we’re really looking for that top-six. It [Scotland selection] would be great but I can only focus on the next game.”
Brown could be directly opposite Leonardo Sarto, the Italy wing who joins Glasgow in the summer, on Friday and that would be a head-to-head he would relish.
“He’s a good, rangy player,” he said. “I was up against him earlier in the season when he’d just come back from the World Cup. He’s tough to put down but we’ll all have to win our individual battles and they have good players through their team. We’ll have to shut them down. Last time we played them [a 19-11 loss in Parma] was the week they got their international boys back from the World Cup and it obviously boosted them. They can play and throw the ball around. But it’s a big opportunity for us.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Rugby yesterday confirmed that prop John Andress will join Munster next season.