New Edinburgh skipper Fraser McKenzie believes that Magnus Bradbury will return to captain the club at some point after learning from the mistake which has seen him stripped of the honour.
Bradbury has been stood down as captain by coach Richard Cockerill after a night out earlier this month left him inebriated, knocked out and in need of ambulance assistance. The 22-year-old flanker was unfit to play the following weekend and told to stay away from the club.
On Tuesday, Cockerill revealed his sanction and 29-year-old lock McKenzie takes on the responsibility for the rest of the season.
“Magnus is a fantastic person, a good guy. He has made a mistake but he is a young guy,” said the new skipper. “He has been put into a position where he is captain. I thought that was the right to decision but he has made this mistake and he has paid the price. He knows that and he will address the team himself this week. He is back in training and I have no doubt that it will be a positive reaction from him.
“He is a great player on the field and that is what I want to see from Magnus. I wanted to see him coming back, proving a point and getting into the Scotland stuff. Eventually, Magnus will come back and he will be captain for Edinburgh and maybe go further but that is on him making good decisions and learning from his mistakes.
“It is not all bad. I think mistakes will help propel him potentially into a better mindset and will only help his onfield stuff as well.”
Dunfermline man McKenzie, who has also had spells at Sale and Newcastle, is not a guaranteed starter for the team when at full strength, with the likes of Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist and Anton Bresler ahead of him in the pecking order but he is a solid club man, who Cockerill clearly sees as the right person to bring some stability and instil the right standards.
“Definitely. In my role as club captain, I may not necessarily always be out on the pitch but I see myself – and certainly talking to Cockers – as driving the standards off the field and on the field,” he said.
“I’ll guide people into making good decisions. That is all it is, Maggie’s, for example, it is something that is not uncommon for anybody. A lot of people have done the same thing as a Magnus has done but he has to realise that he is in a position of responsibility.
“Things that he does will be picked up and scrutinised more than with other people. It is guiding him, guiding people into making right decisions.”
Cockerill says he will make game by game decisions on captaincy on the occasions when McKenzie doesn’t start. The coach referred to what he perceived to be a “loose culture” at the club and the new skipper sees himself as being a guiding influence.
“What you call a loose environment ... I think we need a disciplined environment,” he said. “Players will react when we have got discipline within the training and our whole environment. Some players go out on the Saturday night after a game, the majority of players don’t. We have got a young side and young players have sometimes not been guided into this role, they have been put into these positions a lot younger than some people.”
McKenzie and the squad are preparing for this weekend’s Guinness Pro14 match against Benetton in Treviso and trying to block out off-field distractions, which were added to last Friday with the news that flanker John Hardie had been suspended from Edinburgh and Scotland duty pending a further internal disciplinary investigation.
“None of the players have spoken to John since the incident broke,” said McKenzie. “We were in Russia [for the European Challenge Cup win over Krasny Yar] and we have only just come back. We have been told next to nothing, which I think is down to legal issues. John will be supported by the team regardless but there are consequences for everything and they are outwith our hands.
“We just have to bide our time and focus on the playing side of things. Magnus will come back in this week, I do not know when John will come back what will happen but we will be focusing on playing Treviso and then the Ospreys so that we can go into the break in a good mindset.
“There are boys that will go away with Scotland and the rest of the boys can freshen up before we have a big away trip to South Africa.
“The boys will support anybody in the team but performance is the main thing. The last three games we have gone out during this storm, if you want to call it that, and we have won three games quite convincingly.
“We still have a very good, young group of players who are still on a journey to improve. What we set out our goals at the start of the season and nothing has changed, we are still trying to build that the culture and that buzz at the club.”