Rugby: Paterson fired up for the visit of Dragons

Chris Paterson
Chris Paterson
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For Chris Paterson the past few weeks have been an unfamiliar experience having looked on from the sidelines at a Six Nations Championship for the first time since 2000.

But, for the record-breaking full back, who declared his cap innings closed on 109 after the autumn World Cup, any withdrawal symptoms were dissipated by remaining heavily involved with an Edinburgh Rugby side who re-launch their RaboDirect Pro 12 League campaign at home to Newport Gwent Dragons tomorrow.

“I was kicking every ball (with Scotland) a wee bit but then I remembered that I was lucky enough to be involved so often and it was time for others to go and do it,” reflected Paterson this week.

He added: “I’ve been fine, training hard at Edinburgh and, although it was a new experience being with the club during an international window, there were three away games going on and a bit of a break in which to get some aches and pains away.”

Paterson, 33, certainly didn’t appear a man with misgivings over his decision to focus exclusively on domestic matters and, while Scotland’s dip in form is clearly exercising his mind to the extent of recalling being part of a similarly barren spell, he says of tomorrow’s challenge: “We’ll play this game and intend to get a win for the Scottish guys coming back.

“(But) Dragons are on a good run (three wins out of four) with some really dangerous players and spirit as well.

“I watched on television as they came from being behind in the last twenty minutes to beat Cardiff.

“There are a lot of good players there playing well and a good balance to their side with pace out wide.”

The Dragons fixture is something of a happy hunting ground for Paterson whenever he has been available, scoring 28 points in a 48-3 win three years ago and 17 points last season when Edinburgh won 27-16.

There is also the matter of an upcoming Heineken European Cup quarter-final against Toulouse as the third leg of a Murrayfield fixture treble following next week’s clash with Scarlets to provide motivation, but Paterson insists: “The focus is on game-by-game. A Heineken Cup medal would be nice if we could get that far but priority is getting back to winning ways.”

Coincidentally, Edinburgh have gone seven league matches without a win which mirrors Scotland’s current trot.

“Having watched the (Scotland) games I’m as disappointed as everyone else,” says Paterson. “It’s tough as I know from having been involved in the last whitewash championship in 2004.

“We came out of it with a 100 point win over Japan in the Autumn internationals later that year and the only response has to be to do the small things right and hopefully that takes care of the bigger bit.

“It is it such a difficult situation to be in, though, because international rugby requires huge amounts of effort, guts and team-ship.

“I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously. Scotland results were poor but there were good bits as well as bad bits.

“There were some good performances across the board and some good young players coming through.

“The players are working hard and committing to the cause. They just need to stay with it.”

And what did Paterson make of this year’s Championship overall?

“Last weekend was not great. The flagship games were not the best. Scotland versus Italy was close and intense but the weather was pretty poor at Twickenham for England against Ireland and Wales versus France didn’t really get going.

“It’s always difficult after a World Cup year when you have a mix between guys who have played a lot of rugby and a new team starting afresh.

“There were, however, exciting bits.”

Tomorrow will see Paterson line-up alongside Matt Scott for the first time since the latter made a cap debut in Ireland and many will point to the positive influence this vintage performer has on the up-and-comings.

But, asked if that was what provided the buzz having seen and done it all by this stage of his career, Paterson distanced himself.

“Matt has been with us for a wee while and is a good, skilful, talented strong player.

“But I don’t know how much of a part I play in helping bring these lads through. They do it by themselves.”

Certainly there is a parallel, though, with Paterson and Scott both capped so young that they were playing club rugby in the year in which they debuted for Scotland.