International centre Matt Scott has given his backing to the latest addition to Edinburgh Rugby’s coaching panel – skills and kicking guru Phillipe Doussy.
Frenchman Doussy, 42, will be attached to Edinburgh at least until the end of the year having been flown in by head coach Alan Solomons, his previous boss at the South African Kings franchise.
As he prepared to fly out with Edinburgh to Perpignan for Sunday’s Heineken European Cup group encounter, Scott said that since arriving this week Doussy had already made an impression.
Says Scott: “Phillipe is a good operator. He comes to training with a smile on his face and you can tell he is all about the love of rugby.
“He has some good technical points to make and is solely focused on skills and kicking.
“I’ve been impressed by the way he is very keen to bring us all on individually.
“At professional level we all know how to catch and pass a ball. What Phillipe is about is the finer detail, the little technicalities such as running lines and little things that might seem insignificant.
“However, when you are operating in a high-intensity match you only have split seconds to do things. These small things can mean the difference between a try or not.
“His role is also about teaching you to read situations as well as the technical aspects of actually performing a pass or catching a pass or performing kicks.
“Small things can add up to make a big difference.”
After drawing a blank in Europe last season, Edinburgh are off to a flier – and Scott believes they can learn from the experience of Glasgow who went down at Toulon last week.
Coach Gregor Townsend’s team were caught cold as they shipped 34 points in the first half before battling back to go down 51-28.
“If we can do what Glasgow were unable to do and survive the first 20 minutes we’ll have a chance in Perpignan.
“Glasgow found themselves up against an insurmountable lead, although when Toulon took their foot off the gas they played very well.
“We’ve just got to be prepared for the start. In what is sure to be an intimidating atmosphere they’ll come at us from the start.
“I’m not sure the fact Perpignan lost at Gloucester last week will help us either, because they will be even more determined to make up for that result.
“If we can survive the opening quarter, though, then they might get a bit loose and French crowds have been known to turn against their own team.”
Last year it took 392 minutes for Edinburgh to cross the opposition try-line in Europe.
Thanks to Scott, they got off the mark in a mere five minutes last week against Munster – though the 15-cap centre is quick to share the credit, with particular mention to 21-year-old stand off Harry Leonard, whom he sees going from strength to strength.
“My try came about from the team keeping the ball and getting go-forward. When they (Munster) were short on numbers Harry threw out a miss-pass which found me. I had numbers outside so I could have passed but from five metres out. I used my momentum to get over the line.
“Credit to Harry, who is coming on a lot. All he has needed has been game time.”
Injuries to Piers Francis and Gregor Hunter at a time when Greig Laidlaw is being used exclusively at scrum half have added to that.
Scott added: “Last year Harry would get man of the match and then not play for three weeks. It’s hard in those circumstances.
“When you play at No 10 (stand off) you are under so much scrutiny. A couple of bad kicks just because you are rusty gets you a bad name.
“That’s why we have to give young Scottish guys a chance.
“When I was coming through I was not proven at any stage, and the only reason I am where I am just now is because I got consistent game time.”
In fact, in his debut season of 2011-12, which ended with a cap, Scott received 19 starts. He added: “A big issue is that we don’t have enough opportunities for guys. We only have two pro teams and if we had more there would be more opportunities.
“You’ve got to strike the balance between wanting to win games but also wanting to bring on young talent. You can’t always throw young guys in at the deep-end and it is a balance.”
Two of those games were against Racing Metro, and Scott believes the experience of facing French opposition can stand the team in good stead this weekend.
“We’ve had Racing Metro in our group for the last couple of years, and I expect Perpignan to be similar with a huge pack and big names in the back line.
“They’ll have game-breakers and a good kicking game, but they can also play very loose in trying to keep the ball alive and off-load.
“There’s certainly more to come from Edinburgh, though, after achieving our best performance of the season while still working on things.
“We reached close to that standard earlier in the season and come away with a loss, so now we will be looking to benefit from the good vibe a win always generates.”