Matt Scott insists former Currie club-mate Dougie Fife is ready to take his opportunity against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
The pair had a spell together at Malleny Park and while Scott can look forward to a 21st cap, it will be a whole new experience for fellow Edinburgher Fife on his debut. Nevertheless, cometh the hour, cometh the man is the message from Scott. “I played with him at Currie and through age-groups and he has always had talent,” said centre Scott. “Dougie has the ability to beat people and I’d love to see him on a hard pitch. The roof is to be closed at the Millennium Stadium and it could be Dougie’s type of game.
“He’ll be a good match for whoever he comes up against and he’s ready for international rugby. The time is right for him to make that transition (because) he is good at getting into the right position and on to the end of line-breaks.
“Sometimes you can’t coach things like that.
“Tim Visser is an example of somebody who can do it and Dougie has the ability also to make something out of a small amount of opportunity.”
Another Edinburgh player, Jack Cuthbert, is on the bench, and is a versatile replacement, appearing equally at home as a full back or winger.
Cuthbert gained his only cap so far back in 2007 as a Bath player in a World Cup warm-up fixture, but in moving north he has enhanced prospects with a string of quality displays in the PRO 12 and Heineken Cup.
Scott has been sidelined by injury for much of the domestic season but, as he notes, that has provided an opportunity to run the rule over Edinburgh displays from the sidelines. “Jack sets the standard every week; he never drops a high ball and always makes good decisions,” said Scott who will be appearing at the Millennium Stadium for the first time.
The fledgling centre partnership of Scott and Alex Dunbar will have the chance to test themselves against the current Lions midfield pairing of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts.
“It’ll be good for Alex and myself to get a bearing of where we are although our partnership is in its infancy. Alex is newer on to the scene than I am and there is a way to go before we are established. But it is great that Scott (Johnson) has allowed our partnership to grow.
“It’s helped me a lot playing with Alex week in, week out.
“We are developing and because we don’t play at the same club like, say, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy (of Ireland) who could play together blindfolded, it is taking a bit longer. But hopefully there will be many years ahead of playing together.
“Alex and I played together against South Africa and that was a big challenge but Davies and Roberts are the benchmarks as the last two centres to start a Test for the Lions. Now it is time to put in an 80 minute performance together against two very different opposite numbers.”
Drawing on his PRO 12 experiences, Scott added: “Roberts is very direct and physical and is always trying to beat you on the inside. Davies has a good outside break, a good bounce in his stride and a good kick on him. Defensively they are very solid and a great balance.”
In the case of Dunbar there is remarkable pace as shown when scoring the first of his two tries in Italy this season.
“Alex is exceptionally quick off the mark which is his main asset. His acceleration, for a big guy, is tremendous and as I know from experience he is an intimidating guy to play against.
“You have to worry about him coming at you on a short line. I have to stay with him and (defensively) he does take a bit of the heat off.”
Tries have started to come more regularly for Scotland with Scott providing the scoring pass when Tommy Seymour scored Scotland’s second five-pointer when he ventured across to his ‘wrong’ wing in the 17-19 defeat by France last weekend. “That was planned phase play, a move we had worked on,” said Scott.
“Everyone did their part correctly and although a lot of teams use that play Tommy ran a good trail line.”
Continuing to set up chances when he is not adding to his own three international tries is the task for Scott who credits Scott Johnson with driving him on.
“If Scott thinks you have potential to go a long way he will hammer you and he’s constantly on my back.
“I might have had a great game in attack but have missed a couple of clean-outs so he’ll hammer me on that
“If I start to rest on my laurels and think I had a couple of line breaks but my defence was not great he’ll be on my case because he knows that to be a world class centre you have to have all-round ability and I’m grateful to Scott for that.”