Tom Brown’s painful memory is a spur in Dublin

Edinburgh's Tom Brown during the team announcement at Murrayfield
Edinburgh's Tom Brown during the team announcement at Murrayfield
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TOM BROWN has known the ecstasy and the agony of an Edinburgh Rugby clash with Leinster in the RaboDirect Pro12 League.

Two years ago, almost to the day, Brown announced himself by debuting for Edinburgh off the bench and sharing in a 32-24 victory over Leinster.

Move on a season and Brown was in the starting line-up for an Edinburgh trip to Royal Dublin Showground, venue for tonight’s encounter, and things didn’t go quite so well.

This time Leinster romped to a 54-13 success based on eight tries, although no damage was done to Brown on the individual front as he was quickly named in Scotland’s summer tour squad on the way to a first cap against Australia.

But the painful memory of that Dublin drubbing remains and the good news is it will be used as a spur by Edinburgh tonight.

“That motivates us. These games do stick in your head,” said Brown. “It is something we want to work on. There are no excuses for a result like that.

“It is a real motivation to go and put one on them over there.”

Last time round in the fixture, Brown was at full-back, whereas he now prepares for a first start of the season following a hamstring strain by taking over the left-wing slot normally filled by the resting Tim Visser.

It is a hard act to follow, not just because Visser has started 55 of Edinburgh’s last 61 games, but because he has scored six tries in three starts this season.

Aware that with most right-handed players the ball is more likely to flow to the left, Brown said: “I welcome the chance to show versatility, especially on the left wing where hopefully the ball might run for me.

“Tim has made such an outstanding start, though, that I really have to fill his boots well.”

Perhaps an element of surprise can assist both Brown and Edinburgh as, by all accounts, Leinster’s pre-match media conference was dominated by discussions on how to stop Visser – before it was realised he’d be rested up against the reigning European champions under a rotation policy.

“The change is something they probably weren’t expecting. I have different abilities to Tim and can maybe pop up in different places to where Tim would.

“It can be a different picture show for them and if they had all their focus on one player that might, hopefully, create a bit of space for me.”

The presence of Brown will also be an encouragement to Dougie Fife, who fills a substitute’s role for the first time this season having broken through with four appearances in 2011-12.

Still on an academy contract which he hopes to upgrade as well as clinch a first-ever appearance in the Heineken European Cup, Fife takes heart from seeing how Brown quickly converted opportunities with Edinburgh to a full cap and says: “I’ve played through the age-group ranks and at Currie with not only Tom but Matt Scott also.

“To see them progress to full caps shows how fast it can be done and I want to be part of that as well as get a taste of the Heineken Cup.

“First, though, Edinburgh have to make teams sit up and take notice of the fact we can be a force in the league as well as reaching European semi-finals.

“Leinster are one of the best teams around. If you show you can do it against them you can do it against anyone. It will be a great platform if I get on. Leinster have won three out of the last four Heineken Cups and they have all their internationalists available.

“Although it won’t be the biggest crowd I’ll have played in front of, having appeared at the Dubai sevens which attracts 30-40,000, I expect it will be the noisiest.”

Another incentive is to beat his cousin, Jenna, an under-17 Scotland women’s football cap who plays in goal for the Muirieston club, to a full international status. “It’s great to see Jenna progressing in football and if we can both take advantage of opportunities to go further that would be ideal,” says Fife.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley plays down any prospect of Leinster plans being wrong-footed by Visser’s absence, the former Ireland scrum half saying: “It won’t make any difference to them. They’ll be concentrating on what they’re doing.”