Edinburgh prop Al Dickinson is braced for a brutal scrum battle with his old side Gloucester in this Friday’s European Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop.
The Scotland internationalist spent four years at the Cherry and Whites between 2007 and 2011 and knows how fired up the men from Kingsholm will be.
“Gloucester are a great club,” said Dickinson. “I met a lot of good friends down there and really enjoyed my time there. I know how important this will be to them as well.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for both teams, but we are really looking forward to it. You can see how dangerous Gloucester are, just from last weekend [in their semi-final win over Exeter Chiefs]. They can really put things together.
“Both teams seemed to be in a bit of form at the moment, so it should be a cracker.”
The former Dundee HSFP and Heriot’s man is expecting the set-piece to be a pivotal aspect of Friday’s match, in which Edinburgh will make history as Scotland’s first team to reach a European final.
“All English Premiership teams have really good scrums,” he said. “I assume their front row will be Nick Wood, who is one of the few guys left from my time there, and John Afoa – two outstanding props – with Richard Hibbard in the middle. They will be formidable opposition, so we have to keep working away and improve in training this week.
“I haven’t scrummed against John Afoa before but he is obviously world class. He’s not an All Black for no reason and he has done very well at Gloucester so it will be a huge test.
“I don’t think their league position [ninth] reflects them as a team or as a club. Like us, they had a bit of a stumble at the start of the season, but they have been on form as well. They’ve done massively well in this competition so it will be a really tough game, one that everyone is looking forward to.”
There may be a variety of nationalities on both sides – including, of course, the Scotland skipper and former Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw in the opposition. But Dickinson reckons there will still be a Scotland-England edge to the game.
He said: “I think there always will be that with a Scottish club against an English club in a European final.”