At 6ft 5in and 17st 11lb, Dave Denton is one of the big beasts of the Edinburgh and Scotland rugby pack.
Jungle analogies, however, are probably the last thing 22-year-old Denton would welcome just now as he prepares to meet up with Test coach Andy Robinson and explain a picture circulating on the internet showing him standing underneath an elephant while wearing a medical boot to protect the ankle injury which caused him to miss the summer tour.
Actually, the “moon boot” could well have saved Denton’s life.
On safari at the Mana Poolse national park in Zimbabwe, where he grew up, the six-times capped back row found himself being confronted by a growling lion until a tour guide stepped in and drew on 25 years’ experience of patrolling the bush to take charge of the situation and calm the ferocious animal.
Said Denton: “I have been on a safari every holiday since I was a kid but this was the first time I had done it on foot.
“My parents have been often and they suggested it. I was dubious at first because it was scary stuff but once I got out there it was great.”
That is until Denton and his parents, along with a couple of American tourists and legendary guide Stretch Ferreira, came across a pride of Lions comprising mum, dad and three cubs on the banks of the Zambezi River as night fell.
“We got out of the car, walked up . . . and they came charging at us, dust and everything going crazy,” said Denton.
“They came up to about ten metres and it was very scary, although it turned out to be one of the best and most special experiences I have had in the bush.
“Stretch, who was in the army with my dad, walked straight up to the lion and had control of the situation without having to take the gun off his shoulder.
“He had worked in this area of the bush for 32 years so he knew each animal individually whsat they like and what they don’t like. I never felt he didn’t have control and the only animal he has ever had to shoot was a charging female elephant.
“Lions and male elephants will almost always stop, whereas female elephants tend to be a lot more aggressive.”
In fact, Denton was subsequently told that had he stepped out of line and bolted for cover when the lion charged, he would have been dead meat, but the reason it was never likely to happen he attributes to having to wear his cumbersome recovery boot!
“With Stretch I felt safe if scared and he even took me underneath an elephant, although I have not spoken to Andy Robinson about that picture of me that is circulating wearing my moon boot,” said Denton, who has also told how the retreat from the lions became fraught.
Blogged Denton: “Back off slowly and hurry back to car only to be trapped by breeding herd of elephants until the sun has set (lions about 150m away).
“Eventually sneak through trees back to car for change of pants and a stiff drink!!!”
If the 2012 season started in the company of Lions, then Denton is up front on confessing he hopes the campaign will end as part of a different kind of Lions – the British and Irish select, who are due to tour Australia.
“I have no problem saying I want to be with the Lions. I am very up front about my goals,” said the man who gained man-of-the-match honours when making his first Scotland start against England in February at Murrayfield.
Added Denton: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about being there. First and foremost though, I want to be in an Edinburgh team that is winning games and I’m playing well.”
That goal is hampered by a leg injury which is expected to clear soon and Denton continued: “Injuries are always going to happen and as long as I am going forward I can handle it.
“Missing the Scotland tour might had been a blessing in disguise as I’d had a very long season.
“I was very tired. I took missing the tour in my stride and knew it was going to help me in the long run.
“This injury is more annoying as I’m seeing everyone get ready for games and getting excited while I’m sitting out wishing them well. But then I see how Ben Cairns and Steve Lawrie are dealing with long-term injuries and I have such lot of respect for them.
“Whenever I am down I look at how these guys have kept their spirits up.”
And it could have been worse; if Denton hadn’t obeyed orders and pelted from the banks of the Zambezi, there could have been a whole new meaning brought to the traditional rugby maul . . .