Edinburgh star aiming to emulate Blair

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EDINBURGH RUGBY star Matt Scott has revealed how he will go into Saturday’s Heineken Cup semi-final with Ulster looking to draw on close-up lessons illustrating what is required to be a winner in the Northern Hemisphere’s blue riband club competition.

The 21-year-old international centre learned first-hand while at the Currie club from a player who proved victorious with Ulster whom Edinburgh must overcome for the right to face either Clermont Auvergne or Leinster at Twickenham on May 19.

Said Scott: “When I was coming through the ranks with Currie I counted myself fortunate to play a few games in the same team as second row Mark Blair.” Blair arrived in Edinburgh in the early 90s to study and joined up with Currie. After representing Edinburgh in their inaugural Euro campaign in 1996-97 and the second tier Challenge Shield a season later, Blair returned home and was part of the Ulster side who defeated French club Colomiers in 1999 to lift the Heineken Cup.

“I’ve had an insight into playing abilities that win a Heineken Cup as has my dad (Sean) who played with Mark during his first stint with Currie,” said Scott. “Hopefully some of that rubbed off and it is maybe an omen that nobody expected Ulster to win the trophy the season they did and we go in as underdogs this time. We can draw on the fact that underdogs can have their day as Blairsy’s team showed.”

Blair is now working as a development officer for the Irish Exiles organisation but retains links with Currie, to where Scott will return on Sunday – win or lose.

“Currie hold their annual mini-tournament and I have agreed to present one of the trophies. It’ll be a pleasure to do that, hopefully as a winner with Edinburgh the previous day and a Heineken Final to look forward to because I don’t ever forget it all started for me at Malleny Park in the same mini-section as the lads who’ll be turning out on Sunday.”

Scott gained a first cap from off the bench when Scotland visited Ireland in the Six Nations Championship and he returns to the Aviva Stadium for the semi-final confident there is no chance of his head being turned by the experience.

“Seriously, it would cap a fairytale season for me to be the second Currie player to win a Heineken Cup but not for one second am I looking past Saturday’s semi-final.

“Since we beat Toulouse in the quarter-final, though, there has been such a lot of focus. With 38,000 attending the Toulouse match it was great to help to raise the profile of the club and rugby.

“We really do need to make a habit of having big games like that.

“It definitely does help draw more fans because you can do all the marketing you want but if the team isn’t winning it is really hard to draw people to the game.

“I think the win over Toulouse really did bring the city together.”

If Scott has, among the Edinburgh squad, some rare insight into playing alongside a Euro winner then he is also a player who will have to continue juggling commitments should things go well on Saturday.

He is in his final year as a law student and has examinations due to take place during the week of the Cup Final, but says: “That is a bridge I will cross when I come to it.

“But Edinburgh University are aware of the possible clash and I have a meeting lined-up to discuss what might happen.

“I missed some classes this year due to rugby but the university have been good in the past and hopefully that can continue.

“First of all the priority has to be a win over Ulster this weekend.”