Edinburgh RUGBY star Perry Parker is hoping that maintaining his excellent league record last weekend will lead to a debut Heineken European Cup appearance when Racing Metro are encountered in Paris on Saturday.
The 25-year-old second row was at the heart of Edinburgh’s moral boosting 25-24 win at Connacht and while the Capital outfit have managed only four wins this season he has been involved in each making the 6ft 8in and 18st 5lb colossus something of a talisman.
Against Cardiff and Zebre Parker came off the bench while the former Esher player was a starter against Ospreys as well as Connacht.
Parker’s only other appearance was on his debut in the league opening game at home to Munster which Edinburgh lost 18-23 and almost certainly he would have been utilised more often but for ankle and hip injuries which sidelined him for more than two months.
“The break gave me a chance to concentrate on what it would be like to get back playing,” said Parker. “After those eight or nine weeks away I got a good hunger back. When I got back in the mix against Ospreys I felt almost rejuvenated.”
That victory over Ospreys ended a seven-match losing run in all competitions and Parker added: “Breaking through the barrier felt like a fresh start to the season. That was a spell we needed to break. Once we got out of it, it was almost like a good thing because we could start a new chapter.
“The first win brought the boys together and the pack performance that night was the best I had known since joining Edinburgh. There was a tightness about us; we naturally stuck together.”
Subsequently came that win over Connacht when Edinburgh managed to notch three tires for only the second time this season through Matt Scott, Tim Visser and Stuart McInally, and then resist a late home really which saw a last-gasp Dan Parks drop goal effort go narrowly wide.
Next up come Racing Metro where Edinburgh won with a late Phil Godman drop goal themselves last season and Parker would love to be involved. “I have not yet had an opportunity to play in Europe and it is the next big challenge if called upon.”
The resumption of European action which sees Edinburgh attempt to get off the mark after section defeats by Saracens and Munster when they failed to register a point, has come at the right time, too, for Parker.
“The last few weeks have really seen me start to settle in Edinburgh after moving north, and feeling more at home has had a positive effect on my rugby.”
Edinburgh could certainly use his line-out expertise in particular. They have lost 11 line-outs on their own throw so far this season in Europe and have a success rate of just 68 per cent, which are the worst figures in the tournament.
While Parker stands by hoping for a call to arms, one of the heroes of last year’s march to the Heineken Cup semi-finals, Tom Brown, is hoping his international aspirations can be boosted. It was partly through his try-scoring at home to Racing last year that Brown clinched a place on Scotland’s summer tour, earning a debut cap in the victory over Australia in Newcastle, New South Wales.
However, fellow winger Tim Visser’s qualification for Scotland immediately afterwards was a factor in him dropping out but he is determined to return to the top level.
“Watching the Autumn internationals was tough. It was disappointing not to get picked although in looking at my game I knew I had suffered from a couple of niggling injuries.
“Now I am feeling good again and having made Edinburgh’s starting team (in the last three fixtures) and most recently on the opposite wing to Tim Visser I am hoping to show I am comfortable on either wing while capitalising on the fact that Greg Tonks has been playing brilliantly at full back, his kicking game especially.
“There’s a good feeling at Edinburgh just now.
“The win over Ospreys was really important in helping us over what was a tough run not helped by the fact that against Scarlets I felt we were unlucky.
“Getting a win before the end of the Autumn Tests was important for when the international boys returned.”
Meanwhile, the win over Connacht has moved Edinburgh up to seventh in the table while Tim Visser’s touchdown was his tenth of the league campaign putting him three clear of Scarlets’ George North in the individual charts.
The win also ensured Edinburgh avoided going through a complete calendar year without a victory over Irish provincial opposition and the next task is to crack the most disciplined team in the Heineken Cup. Racing Metro’s 7.5 penalties conceded per game is the lowest in the tournament so far this season.