Nick De Luca aims to round off an encouraging few days by helping Edinburgh to victory against Treviso in the RaboDirect Pro12 at Murrayfield tonight.
The 29-year-old centre was named earlier this week in Scotland’s extended squad for the upcoming viagogo Autumn Tests having failed to add to his 30 caps in either this year’s Six Nations or the summer tour.
That absence was partly due to an allegedly dangerous tackle on Osprey Tom Grabham which earned de Luca a 13-week suspension, later cut to seven weeks on appeal.
However, de Luca now believes time out, while hard to take in terms of an unwarranted slur on his character, is now providing benefits.
“It (the ban) was difficult to start with and going through the appeal process was quite emotionally difficult because of the assassination of my character,” he says.
“To suggest I was going out on purpose to hurt someone .. I hoped people realised that was not me.
“I’d been playing for a ridiculous amount of years and never had anything like that.
“It was more to defend that (reputation) and I was delighted to get the suspension reduced.
“But it did give me time to train and do a lot of research off the pitch. I’ve come back in better shape for that.”
Coincidentally it was against Treviso that de Luca returned last season and now he hopes to use the fixture to move Edinburgh up the table.
“We really need to get some results in the Rabo, so we are not languishing at the bottom,” he says.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons is looking forward to trying to outwit a former pupil at Murrayfield tonight.
Referring to Treviso’s coach Franco Smith, an ex-Springbok, Solomons recalls: “I coached him when he was involved with our national side in 1998, when we won Tri Nations.
“Franco was a very good fly-half or inside centre, a really nice bloke. Unsurprisingly he has turned into an excellent coach.
“He is a structured, well organised coach who knows what he wants to do.”