Rugby: Scott thankful De Luca was on hand to help in cap debut
Matt SCOTT and Nick De Luca line-up at centre for Edinburgh Rugby against Scarlets at Murrayfield tomorrow three weeks after the latter took on a special mentoring role to help prepare his younger colleague for an international baptism of fire.
As he reflected on an eleventh-hour Scotland cap debut from off the bench against Ireland in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, Scott told how De Luca, after withdrawing injured during the warm-up, had gone the extra mile to ensure tactics were unaffected by the late switch.
“It was a tough call for Nick to make and he was great with me afterwards. He came up and not only gave advice but was talking to me all the time I was on the bench.
“I was on the team bus to the game as 24th man but I knew Nick had a niggle in his hamstring and I said to myself I was going to prepare as if were on the bench so that if I was called up I was ready.
“When Nick did pull up 20-30 minutes before kick-off when he had tried to do some running I was prepared.
“In the match as soon I saw Jonesy [Lee Jones] go down injured I knew that was my cue to go on.
“Having Nick talk me through things was the mark of the kind of guy he is. He is really helpful to the new guys.”
De Luca, who has just signed a two-year contract extension along with flanker Ross Rennie played down his off-field contribution to Scott, but said: “Matt is quite a player. My advice was more about just trusting in himself. We can over complicate things in our head. He just needed to relax and trust in his own abilities, show he was worth the chance.
“As when Jon Welsh was called up at even shorter notice in Italy it was not a normal situation. In Dublin as well these were very tough conditions, physically and mentally, and I thought Matt coped admirably.”
Two thirds of Edinburgh’s starting line-up tomorrow are now full caps – even if the status is taking a while to sink in with law student Scott, who says: “It is weird and hasn’t sunk in. It happened so quickly and maybe only when the season is over and I get a bit of time to myself will I be able to reflect properly.”
First up, though, come Scarlets and Scott will again be aiming to show how much his game has developed after being moved successfully to centre from stand-off.
“To have played all my professional rugby at Edinburgh in the centre and to come on for Scotland in that position as well is something I’d never have imagined but I feel comfortable.
“However, I know how hard it is playing No. 10 and I also know how important it is to have a voice outside at No. 12 giving you calls and offering extra options.
“A couple of kicking threats keeps the [opposition] full-back on his toes and maybe that is something we can exploit the more I benefit from [Edinburgh coach] Michael Bradley’s encouragement.”