Hamish Watson plans to bring Scotland form to Edinburgh
If anyone can inject a bit of confidence into Edinburgh ranks following back-to-back losses in Wales, it should be Hamish Watson.
The openside flanker has just enjoyed a dream autumn in which he played every minute of Scotland’s autumn Test series, taking his caps tally to four and scored his first ever international try in the final match against Georgia at Rugby Park.
It was suitable reward for the 25-year-old’s fine early season form and he is in line to be back in club colours this weekend when Edinburgh return to European Challenge Cup action against Stade Francais at BT Murrayfield on Saturday evening.
“The time with Scotland was a great experience, but we now have to focus on club stuff,” said Watson. “You learn a lot being in that environment. You learn a lot playing three Tests of 80 minutes against some top-quality opposition.
“Being in that environment and having different coaches for a while you learn different things.”
The player accepts that there is a bit of responsibility on his shoulders now to try and lift an Edinburgh which has shown flashes of promise but largely misfired.
Excellent wins over Ulster and Harlequins have been washed away by seven losses from ten which leaves the team sitting a poor tenth in the Guinness PRO12 standings.
Their Challenge Cup pool makes for healthier viewing with a maximum ten points from their two games so far against Timisoara of Romania and that thriller against ‘Quins.
The upcoming double header against Stade Francais, with the return in Paris next Thursday, is likely to prove pivotal if Edinburgh are to make the knockout stages.
“Morale was very high in the Scotland camp because we were going very well. All the boys have come back in and we’ll try to lift the boys,” said Watson.
“Although morale isn’t down in the Edinburgh camp we have lost two on the bounce since the Ulster game.
“It is all about trying to lift everyone and bring a bit of good vibe back from the Scotland camp and keep everyone going and bring back as much positive energy as we can.”
Stade have struggled again in the French Top 14 this season, although they had a big win at the weekend, and it is difficult to know how seriously they plan to take this weekend’s assignment.
Watson says all Edinburgh can do is brace themselves for a first-choice selection and fully committed display from a club who have finished runners-up twice in both the elite and second-tier European competition.
“It will be an exciting game,” said the flanker. “They put 50 points on Bayonne at the weekend and who knows what team they will put out.
“They have some amazing players with some really top internationals. It will be a tough game.
“Whether they put their strongest team our or if they rest a few boys we have to be at our best and it is an opportunity to try to get more points and move up the pool.
“Every game is crucial, we found that out last year when we were pipped at Grenoble and then didn’t qualify because London Irish overtook us.
“Every point is crucial, we have to go out there and try to get a five-point victory.
“We have been going well in Europe, we did well against Timisoara Saracens and did well in that Harlequins game as well, it has been the highlight of the season so far along with the Ulster win at home.
“It has been a case of not being so inconsistent – one week our defence will be good, the other bad, our attack good then bad.
“We have to get it all on a level playing field and start playing more consistently.”