Matt Scott was always confident he hadn’t played his last game for Edinburgh and is now determined to make it a successful swansong with his hometown club.
The centre is back fit and in the selection mix for Friday’s crunch trip to face Munster in Cork as the team desperately chase the top-six finish that will secure European Champions Cup rugby next season.
Scott will be at Gloucester by then after agreeing a move to the English Premiership earlier in the year and is desperate to leave a parting gift of top-level European competition. The 25-year-old started Scotland’s first Six Nations match against England before picking up a minor thigh injury in the build-up to the Wales game. He was looking to get some match fitness when he played for Edinburgh against Connacht in March but suffered a tear to the medial ligament of the elbow which has kept him out since.
“It would have been sad if that was my last game for Edinburgh,” said Scott yesterday. “Hopefully I will make it through the next couple of week and I can have my last game for the club [at home to Cardiff a week on Saturday].
“I was able to run and do almost everything apart from lift weights with the arm. It has been relatively straightforward comeback from injury, just a case of waiting for it to heal. I had no complications.
“Luckily, there was enough still attaching it to the bone that I didn’t need surgery and it would heal itself. Looking at the initial scans, the doctors said I would need surgery, so it was a nice surprise when they said it was just a six-week injury and good to know I would get a couple of games in before the end of the season.”
It is a timely return for the 34-times capped centre, as Alan Solomons needs as much of his best talents and experienced heads as possible. Edinburgh are lying sixth and level on points with Friday’s opponents, ahead on points difference, but knowing that any slip now could prove fatal. “We are treating it as a cup final game,” said Scott. “Losing is not an option for us this week. Maybe mathematically we might be okay, but we have to go in looking to win. It’s a tough place to win but the guys have done that once or twice over the years so we know we can do it.
“They are in the same boat as us. For a club like Munster, with their heritage, not to be in the top European competition means they will be more than up for it as well.”
Scott doesn’t think the fact the game is in Cork rather than the fortress of Limerick’s Thomond Park changes much and said: “I’ve never played them in Cork ... Thomond is their spiritual home but I’m not sure. It will be an extremely tough game either way.”
It is an exciting period ahead for Scott with the Guinness Pro12 run-in followed by a potential trip to Japan on tour and then the move south.
“It would be great to get on the summer tour but I am focusing on Edinburgh at the moment, getting back to playing again,” he said. “I have to get back in the Scotland squad, never mind the starting team. I am happy with how my recovery has gone and feel really good, I have had a good block of fitness and weights. I am feeling really sharp.”
Rugby can become a bit of a well-worn circuit so the exoticism of a two-Test series in the Far East is certainly something that appeals.
“It is extremely exciting,” he said. “You visit the same places a lot but to play international rugby in these countries ... I have never been even on holiday. It is exciting for the players as well knowing you are going not just to a great place to play rugby but also a great place to visit.
“That is part of what touring is all about, visiting the surrounding areas and learning about the different cultures and things like that. It will be really good.”
Soon it will be acclimatising to the rugby-mad culture of England’s west country and, while Scott will be sad to leave the club he joined as an elite development player in the summer of 2011, he is sure it is the right decision.
“I have been here for a few years now, I will be extremely sad to leave,” he said. “That is part of it, it is not just a rugby decision but a personal decision as well. I did not want to look back on my rugby career and say I stayed in my comfort zone.
“I wanted to play in a different league and try to improve myself as a player. That is the main thing to try to put myself out of my comfort zone to get better. I think I respond quite well to challenges like that.
“At the end of season dinner it will be funny to look back. It’s easy to forget sometimes how different your career could have been. I think it will be quite emotional looking back on my time at Edinburgh. It changed my life completely getting my opportunity here and it’s opened many doors for me.
“Edinburgh is a place I’ll be back to live one day and, who knows, I may even be back here to play one day.”