Rugby: Greig Laidlaw out to improve Edinburgh

Greig Laidlaw models the new kit. Picture: Esme Allen

Greig Laidlaw models the new kit. Picture: Esme Allen

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Greig Laidlaw insists he has “unfinished business” with Edinburgh Rugby as this latest Scotland captain prepares to enter the final year of his current contract.

A string of outstanding 
individual displays last season, culminating in a last-gasp conversion against Italy this summer in South Africa to ensure that when the curtain fell it was on a winning performance, is bound to have been noted around the rugby world.

Laidlaw insists his focus is on helping to atone for a campaign where Edinburgh fell out of Europe without a win and finished third bottom of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 table. 
“Last season was a tough one which affected me quietly badly” said Laidlaw, the Edinburgh captain.

“It was a long, long season and I felt sorry for the fans because in the season before we were close to building something. Then it all fell away.

“It’s our job to turn it around, to create the energy that gets Edinburgh up the league.

“I have unfinished business at Edinburgh with the way last season went.

“I have one year left on my contract and while you never know what is going to happen, I’d love to make sure this year is absolutely top-notch for the team and then everything else takes care of itself.”

To that end, new coach Alan Solomons can’t arrive quickly enough from his present post as director of rugby at South 
African Super 15 franchise Southern Kings so far as the newly-married Laidlaw is 
concerned.

“We’re all looking forward to Alan getting here and wouldn’t like him to be here much later than a week on Monday when he is due to start work fixing the club. “When word arrives that a new coach is coming in, some of he boys put feelers out to try to learn what he is like and our two South Africans (Izak van der Westhuizen and WP Nel) had some sort of insight.

“He comes with a good 
reputation and, at 63 years old, he’ll be looking to do a job.

“He’s not going to muck around and, for me, that’s 
encouraging.

“From what I hear he is a hard task master, a very detailed guy which I think will work well with the current squad.

“We needed a change.

“In the past everybody has talked about playing the 
Edinburgh way meaning free flowing rugby.

“I think we need to be 
defensively solid before we think about anything else.”

In that respect there has been speculation that Solomons will bring in a specialist defensive coach with former Scotland backroom member Alan Tait heavily tipped for a role.

“There might be scope for another guy to come in (to the coaching panel).

“If that is case, whoever he brings in, whether Scottish or not, Alan is obviously going to be the gaffer.”

Laidlaw himself had a taste of extra responsibility during the summer when Kelly Brown’s injury saw him inherit the 
Scotland captaincy.

“It was a huge honour for me and one of the best experiences I have had in rugby career. 
Being Scotland captain is something you are able to take to the grave.

“But Kelly is the captain and I want him to get back fit.”

As for his third last gasp kick to win a Test in addition to several vital late strikes for Edinburgh Laidlaw says: “It’s probably getting harder knocking them over to win – nothing’s a certainty until the ball is over the bar, but I was certainly pleased Al Strokosch was able to score the try I converted to end the season nearer to the posts – just as I was shouting at him to do.”

And if the Scotland 
captain couldn’t give that sort of 
instruction, who could?