Ask Simon Webster when he might be seen back in an Edinburgh Rugby jersey after damaging a hamstring in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 league clash at Ospreys just over a fortnight ago and the winger’s response is guarded.
“Good question. I don’t know. It is not the sort of injury you want to rush back from or else it will just go again. I’m taking it easy at the moment but almost every day the injury is improving and it wasn’t a particularly bad one in the first place which should help.”
But put the 37-cap winger on the spot by asking about the chances of a Scotland team he twice helped to victory in Calcutta Cup matches coming out on top in Saturday’s historic World Cup showdown with England in Auckland and circumspection goes out the window.
Webster’s response is, in fact, positively effusive.
The Scots need to win by eight clear points to have a chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages and while they haven’t achieved that margin of success against England since 1986, nothing is going to be allowed to diminish the optimism of 30-year-old Webster.
“In World Cups when so much depends on one game anything can happen. It’s a cliche but its true. I haven’t really spoken to many of the guys following last weekend’s defeat by Argentina but I know they are going to go out all guns blazing, throw the kitchen sink and hope things go the right way.
“To beat England by quite a few points – we’ll need a few bounces of the ball and if we have lapses in concentration, like Andy Robinson said the team had against Argentina, that will be fatal.
“But we have some really dangerous runners in the Scottish back line at the moment so it can be done. Nobody thought Ireland beating Australia was possible and in the end the winning margin was almost comfortable.
“There is no way anybody will look at Scotland’s chances and say it is not possible because in a game of rugby where guys get hurt and so on, any outcome is possible.”
A few hours before Scotland’s hopes of maintaining an unbroken link with quarter-final qualification go on the line, Edinburgh entertain Munster and the aim will be to try to put a feelgood element into the game with domestic success.
Webster is no stranger to the fixture and knows what has to be done against the men from Limerick. “Munster are a team who have to be made to earn any points they score.
“If you give them cheap stuff and they get in front then it’s a long way back.
“I remember one year we actually made 235 tackles as a team in a single match against them including 37 from Simon Cross alone and we still ended up winning by just a narrow margin.”
Currently Munster are unbeaten in four starts and while Edinburgh have only beaten Connacht they have collected two losing bonus points – at Ospreys and Aironi last weekend. Webster added: “All points we are picking up are important (in terms of reaching the top four and play-offs) but, obviously, we’d rather be picking up wins.”
This will be the second time in successive home matches that the league leaders have checked in at Murrayfield and Webster believes Edinburgh can make a statement by taking the scalp of the two-time European champions. “When you go over to Ireland and see the set ups there with nearly 25,000 people going to almost every Munster home game that is impressive.
“But Connacht was a good win because they are a good team these days and over the last five seasons they have made huge steps forward.
“There are positives to take out of our start and with the team having arrived back disappointed with the way we conceded points at Aironi there is a real determination to topple the team at the top of the league for a second time and show what Edinburgh are really capable of.”
Meanwhile, Munster have recalled BJ Botha, Marcus Horan and Ian Nagle, all of whom missed last weekend’s win in Cardiff, through either injury or illness. Also added are Simon Zebo, Paddy Butler and Dave O’Callaghan, while James Coughlan and skipper Peter O’Mahony, who both retired injured in the course of the Cardiff game, are also included in the squad.
Munster: J Murphy, S Deasy, S Zebo, T Gleeson, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley, D Howlett, P Stringer, D Williams, I Keatley, M Horan, J Hayes, W du Preez, J Ryan, S Archer, BJ Botha, D Fogarty, M Sherry, B Holland, M O’Driscoll, I Nagle, D Foley, D O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, N Ronan, T O’Donnell, P Butler, J Coughlan.