Edinburgh winger Damien Hoyland is confident that an upturn in fortunes is imminent for the BT Murrayfield-based outfit that has made a disappointing start to the Guinness PRO12 campaign.
The Capital side has posted just one win from the opening four fixtures to sit ninth in the league table. And the task of improving on that tally is far from straightforward with the next assignment a trip to face defending champions Connacht on Friday.
However, Hoyland insists that the team is progressing, although he expects Connacht to come out with similar intent to Edinburgh as the title holders also seek to bounce back from having lost all four of their matches so far.
“I feel we have the right game plan to do a job on them. They haven’t made the best of starts to the season either,” he said. “They will see it as an opportunity to win and win well at home, but we know what we have to do to beat them.”
While it has been a tough start to the season for everyone at the club, it has been particularly difficult for the 22-year-old former Boroughmuir speedster, whose form at the end of last season earned him his first senior start – and second cap – for Scotland during the summer tour to Japan.
A subsequent injury delayed his first PRO12 appearance of the campaign until last Saturday, when he played all 80 minutes in the 28-14 defeat against Munster at Thomond Park.
“It’s been a frustrating start to the season and not the start I wanted, so I’m just buzzing to be back playing,” he explained. “Towards the end of pre-season, just before the first game, I had a bit of a niggle in my groin. I kept trying to push it and maybe trained when I shouldn’t have really been training.”
He admits that it was difficult watching from the side lines, but he is now focused on rediscovering the form that saw him feature in 20 matches last season.
“I had my goals set and I just wanted to start the season with a bang. Sadly it never happened and that can be really frustrating”, he added. “But it’s only three games I missed so it’s not actually that bad.”
He also has an eye on being involved in the autumn international tests, but is reluctant to set himself that target, believing that good form for Edinburgh will ensure that he is in the mix for Scotland selection.
“I have to take it a step at a time and right now the most important thing is trying to play as well as I can for Edinburgh and getting back in that team. If I play well for Edinburgh and that gets noticed than I will hopefully get picked up. I try not think about it too much”, he said.
And, with that in mind, his focus is firmly on Friday’s trip to Galway. He understands the frustration felt by Edinburgh supporters but insists that there is progress and also reiterates that everyone at the club is fully supportive of coach Alan Solomons and the type of rugby he is trying to play.
Hoyland believes that the team has more options as an attacking force than was the case last season when the most effective tool was a powerful pack. Nevertheless, he admits that the Munster game exposed weaknesses and a high error count that must be eradicated if results are going to improve.
“Last week was frustrating because we left a lot out there. We should have scored more tries and the tries we gave away were quite soft,” he conceded. “Going into this week we need to do what we did last week, but just take our chances and finish them and stay tight as a unit in defence. It’s just taking our opportunities and identifying the opportunities we have created.”