Rising Edinburgh Rugby star Sean Kennedy has welcomed a three-cornered fight for the scrum-half jersey when Greig Laidlaw moves on to Gloucester next season.
Internationalist Laidlaw’s change of scene will leave the key role in the hands of not only Kennedy – 24 tomorrow – but also 20-year-old Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Grayson Hart, 25.
A five-week sabbatical granted to Laidlaw by Edinburgh, so that he is fresh for a summer Scotland tour, has provided an insight into what lies ahead, but Kennedy says the competition will intensify next season.
“Grayson, Sam and myself aren’t trying to get one up on each other,” said Kennedy. “We do what we can to help whoever is starting each week and make sure they are in good shape, but when it comes to pre-season it will be a different story. It’s exciting for pushing us all on.
“Pre-season is when we’ll see what shape Edinburgh are taking and we’ll each do our best to put a stamp down and try and get the starting jersey.
“With Greig leaving, it is a chance to put an idea in (coach) Alan Solomons’ head.
“Alan has already said that with Greig leaving that is our captain going and that a spot is opening up.
“He has been pretty honest and said he’ll look at all three of us although come the start of next season he still might not know who is No 1. Between now and then is when you have to put the work in.”
Kennedy, pictured left, is the only member of the latest Edinburgh line-up to have inside track on upcoming opponents Glasgow.
The teams meet at Scotstoun on Saturday in a re-arranged Pro 12 League game but that isn’t all that sets him apart.
Recently this one-time Glasgow player went out on a month’s loan to London irish and he continues to benefit from that experience.
“I loved the opportunity to go down to London Irish,” he said. “At the time I was coming back from injuring my knee and I had been out for a while, not playing much rugby.
“To get the chance to go and play at a decent level was something I was more than happy to do.
“It was a different coaching set-up and a different mindset on how they want the game to be played. London Irish were a bit more expansive in looking to play pretty much from everywhere if they got ball to run.
“In many ways that suited my game and a chance to live in London for just over a month freshed me up.
“I was away from everything I had learned in Scotland and I came back hungry and match-fit.”
To say the rugby was a “decent level” is a bit of an underestatement, as Kennedy was a member of an Exiles team who inflicted a first home defeat on Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens.
“I had four games on the bench and in LV Cup ties against Scarlets and Wasps I got 40 minutes of action. In Premiership games against Saracens and Leicester I got 20 and 30 minutes respectively,” said Kennedy for whom it is all or nothing regarding the scrum-half jersey compared to more versatile rivals.
Laidlaw has alternated successfully between scrum-half and stand-off, so, could he do likewise?
“Sam can play a number of positions (including winger in the win at Newport a few weeks ago) and that is something he has in his armoury.
“Grayson could probably play stand-off as well but I wouldn’t say I could. I played No. 10 at age-group level and had occasional run-outs there for Stirling County, but I wouldn’t fancy it at pro level…or at least not unless I was 20 kilos heavier!”