Roddy Grant today revealed that “brutal” competition for places at Edinburgh Rugby would not allow him ever to sit on his rugby laurels – even after a man-of-the-match award in one of Capital side’s greatest away wins.
Openside flanker Grant was singled out for individual honours following Edinburgh’s 16-10 Heineken Cup win at Gloucester last week, but as he and his team-mates return to RaboDirect PRO12 action tonight against Leinster at Murrayfield, his thoughts lie on the present, not the past.
“It is so much easier finishing your weekend with a win and a performance like the one the team gave at Gloucester,” Grant told the Evening News, “but 100 per cent we have to back it up. This is a huge game for us.
“We can’t afford to be a team that does well one week and not the other. There is a real emphasis on backing it up.”
Grant started the first four games of this season for Edinburgh, but subsequently has had to be content with occasional appearances – never more than two in succession – as coach Alan Solomons’ rotational policy kicked in once injured players returned.
According to Grant, the scramble for starting berths come match-day is pushing him to new heights and making sure that he keeps his foot firmly on the pedal. “Professional rugby is a competitive area of sport and always has been since I have been involved, but I can’t remember when I have felt things to be this competitive in this type of environment,” continued the 26-year-old.
“It’s a tribute to Alan, his coaching and all the back row forwards who are playing well. I feel I have been playing my best rugby; definitely it’s been a good thing for me.
“Once you are in, you want to be playing well and if you are out on rotation, you hope what you have been doing is good enough. When your chance comes again you have to be playing the game of your life – it’s brutal, but good.”
Helping Grant’s performance is the direction an guidance provided by Solomons. “Alan has been great with feedback,” he explained. “He gives it to you straight, in black and white as it were. You know where you stand and you know if you haven’t played well you will be out the next week. I really do need to be playing well to keep the No.7 jersey for Edinburgh.”
Botswana-born Grant has got as far as a travelling reserve for Scotland and, as the current club season reaches a crucial stage with the Leinster visit followed by a double-header against Glasgow before returning to the Heineken Cup stage for one last push for a quarter-final berth, stakes are particularly high on the individual front.
“In terms of the Scotland stuff, it is still 100 per cent my dream to wear the jersey,” said the former Scotland Sevens cap. “Representing Scotland [at full level] is a goal I want so badly, but all I can affect is how I play for Edinburgh; recognising that if the team does well, we all are helped.”
On that front, the visit of 2012 Heineken Cup winners Leinster represents a massive opportunity. “Leinster have such a big talented squad they play the same way no matter who is on the pitch,” said Grant. However, on the basis of his performance against Gloucester, the Irish should be more wary of Grant rather than the other way round.