Cornell Du Preez insists Edinburgh visit Ospreys in the Guinness Pro12 on Sunday on the back of a “wake-up call”.
That came in a 14-13 home defeat by Connacht made all the more disappointing as Edinburgh had won at Munster the previous weekend.
However, not only did the 23-year-old South African back row insist lessons had been learned but he maintained that if a setback had to occur it arrived at the appropriate time.
“That was definitely a wake- upcall and if it had to happen it was as well taking place early in the season. There was definitely no complacency, though, as it was more down to us not being clinical enough in attack with the many chances we created. That’s what cost us and it reminded us we can’t live on the back of one win, albeit at Munster.”
Not surprisingly Edinburgh had a major debrief to get the effects of losing to Connacht opponents they had thumped 43-10 a season earlier out of the collective system.
“We have to respect every time in this league and latest results have shown that everyone can beat everyone. We went in determined to back up the performance in Munster and show it wasn’t a one-off but failed,” said Du Preez.
“We sat down, had a good meeting, and put the whole performance to bed. Now it is about getting back in the saddle, putting points on the board again and I certainly feel fresher this time round.
“Looking back it was a hard ask to come out of the Southern Hemisphere season [with Southern Kings] and go straight in. The reason I got through [he was involved in 23 of Edinburgh’s last 25 games] was down to the pre-season programme.
“Now I’ve had a good break followed by similar conditioning at Edinburgh.”
If Du Preez was a standout figure in 2013-14, early signs show he could be even more influential this time around.
Indeed, Rugbynet, a website which promises “data driven analysis” puts Du Preez at the top of last week’s individual displays for his ball carrying, tackling and ability to snap up a try chance. A word of warning, though, as the previous weekend “Rugbynet” championed Ospreys scrum half Rhys Webb as their No. 1 stating: “Webb masterminded the Ospreys’ dismantling of Treviso, fed prop, Nicky Smith, to score his side’s first try, threw an outrageous dummy to wrong foot the visiting defenders and glided through under the posts.”
Edinburgh have been warned but Du Preez shows no sign of losing his try touch as evinced when he dived over in the corner last week. It was Du Preez’s eighth touchdown in 25 starts for Edinburgh including home-and-away counters against Perpignan in the Heineken European Cup.
Typically, he plays down those contributions: “It doesn’t matter who scores the tries as long as we do. I was on the wing waiting on the ball to come and was just lucky. It was a good pass from Nick (McLennan) and there were a good couple of phases in the build up.”
Later, in a pivotal moment, Du Preez was judged by the video ref to have grounded the ball marginally short of the Connacht line after picking up and surging from a scrum set up by he and others pressurising the defender.
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons rightly remarked afterwards that if Du Preez had been able to stretch a few more inches it was game over as there would have been little time for Connacht to come back.
Alas they managed one decisive score and the video ref incident illustrated how tight the margins are.
Du Preez admitted: “I probably didn’t score but it was a crucial moment that would have enabled us to show the Munster win wasn’t a one-off.
“At least, though, that opening day demonstrated we can win anywhere. Our defending has to be good as Ospreys have some devastating runners at the back.”
This is echoed by coach Solomons who speaks of a “fast track” in a reference to the grass at the Liberty Stadium being more closely cropped on account of sharing with football.
“Last year they got away from us. They play at pace and Dan Biggar is an excellent player.”