Edinburgh’s Matt Scott excited to be facing Brian O’Driscoll

Matt Scott promotes the RBS Rugby Force scheme in which clubs will open their doors on August 9-10 in a bid to boost interest.
Matt Scott promotes the RBS Rugby Force scheme in which clubs will open their doors on August 9-10 in a bid to boost interest.
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Matt Scott has welcomed both the prospect of going head-to-head with “easily the most outstanding centre in the northern hemisphere and possibly the world over the past decade”.

And he is also excited by taking on opponents sitting on top of the PRO12 League when Edinburgh visit Brian O’Driscoll’s Leinster tomorrow.

The Dublin clash marks the end of O’Driscoll’s regular league career and, while normally the focus would be entirely on his own team, it was appropriate that Scott should acknowledge a fellow internationalist in his position who, he says, has set the standards.

“I’ve played Brian O’Driscoll a few times and found him a very intelligent player with exceptional skill and flair as well as being a great defender with a tremendous work rate.

“If he and I are picked (teams were due to be announced later today) then facing him again is a challenge I look forward to.

“Brian is easily the most outstanding centre in the northern hemisphere and possibly the world over the past decade. He seems like a great leader as well.

“It is testimony to him and his caps (133) that he keeps rising to the challenge when opponents always target him in terms of trying to put on a special performance and get one up on someone it is actually an honour to play against.”

Having said all of that, Scott insisted that Edinburgh were particularly conscious of trying to go into the summer leaving fans with warmer memories than those presented last weekend during a 12-55 home defeat at the hands of Munster.

“It’s always a good thing having a tough game this week,” said Scott, adding: “It focuses the mind having to go out and be 100 per cent switched on, or else you are bound to get a big score put on you by Leinster in Dublin.

“Last week was an odd game where we gave away a soft try at the end of the first half, which gave Munster momentum.

“Unfortunately our heads kind of went down – which was probably the most disappointing thing.”

For all that it was out of character for the team to allow heads to drop that was surely some admission, but if recognising the problem is part of the cure then, hopefully, Edinburgh are well on the road to atonement.

Colleague Tim Visser, also speaking at the launch of the RBS Rugby Force scheme where the weekend of August 9 and 10 will see top players providing practical assistance to clubs, summed up Edinburgh’s demise even more succinctly.

“In every game we have always battled to the end. Things imploded a little bit on the weekend,” said Visser.

Now the aim is to regain pride in a special way and, bearing in mind an 11-6 home win over Leinster earlier this season, the prospect of a first league double over the Dubliners in a decade is alive.

It is also an opportunity for Visser to keep on regaining sharpness after returning from a broken leg only three starts ago.

“I feel I am just about to hit my old form again in terms of pace, power and match sharpness.

“With a broken leg it is always a bit dodgy mentally getting tackled again and I feel I have something to thank my colleague Roddy Grant for. At the first contact session back in training, I carried the ball early on and Roddy put in a really hard tackle on my ankle. I thought ‘that’s what you have friends for’ but the moment you come out of a tackle like that feeling fine, all doubts are left behind.

“It would be something special to do the double over Leinster.

“All we want to do is perform...to see out the season with a big performance and try to show how we have progressed.”

As well as ex-Lions skipper O’Driscoll, that stalwart Leinster second row Leo Cullen, captain when the Heineken European Cup was won at Murrayfield by beating Leicester in 2009, is also bowing out and the Irish have been understandably quick to tap into the emotion of that situation.

Visser sees it as an incentive of another sort. “Scots love spoiling parties,” he said. “You hear Greig Laidlaw talk about nothing else but spoiling parties. It might be a big occasion for them but it is also one for us.”

If Edinburgh are to prevail, it will be the first time in Dublin since 2005, when the fixture was played at Donnybrook, and so far as Matt Scott is concerned, there might even be an element of payback waiting.

“I’m sure they’ll be thinking about that loss at Murrayfield earlier in the season,” he said.

Every now and again, though, Edinburgh have the habit of pulling an unexpected win out of the fire.