Variety of partners keeping Matt Scott on toes

Steady hand: Matt Scott
Steady hand: Matt Scott
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Matt Scott again enters uncharted territory with Edinburgh tonight when lining up alongside Andries Strauss at Treviso in the RaboDirect PRO12 league.

A pairing with Strauss means that the 23-year-old Scott will now have partnered a South African as well as an Argentinian, New Zealander and several Scots at centre in the course of a 45-match Capital career.

The situation underlines the cosmopolitan nature of the team being built by coach Alan Solomons in a bid to make Edinburgh a more successful outfit. But, says Scott, so long as the groundwork is put in there is no problem adjusting to different cultures.

Referring to how he has worked alongside ex-Puma Joaquin Dominguez as well as All Black Ben Atiga and Scots trio Ben Cairns, James King and Nick De Luca, Scott says: “They are all different players who bring different qualities but it doesn’t really change my role so long as you have had a week training together.

“As with Andries, it is about talking to each other and finding out what moves the other likes to do.”

Strauss, 29, represented the Springboks in a non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham four years ago.

He has twice won the Currie Cup, a top provincial competition in South Africa, as well as turning out in Super Rugby for the Cheetahs, Sharks and Kings. Scott says: “Andries is very composed. He is a good communicator and a good rugby player as well.

“He’s played 12 (inside centre) at various high levels and I’m always keen to learn off players who have experience like that, partly because they have been in my shoes as a young guy.”

It will be slightly unusual tonight, though, in that Scott switches from the inside-centre position he has occupied in all 21 appearances for Scotland to outside centre.

“I’ve never played outside centre for Scotland but I did play a lot there last year for Edinburgh when Nick was injured or banned. I was there in my first (pro) season as well.

“It’s different defensively but nothing too challenging. You have to learn a few new calls about where you are meant to be. But although there is usually a bit more space, provided you have a good amount of ball, it is still about the basics of carrying possession up and organising.”

An ankle injury sustained in pre-season restricted Scott to just three outings, including one as a sub at Cardiff, before being drafted in for the Autumn Tests where he damaged a hand in the final play of the opening clash against Japan.

Once recovered, a hamstring problem again put him on the sidelines but it is a measure of the esteem in which he is held at Scotland level that he was brought straight in for the Six Nations. All of which means this will be the one-time Currie prodigy’s first outing for Edinburgh since the previous meeting with Treviso in October.

“I’m feeling fresh (after the Six Nations) and dying to play for Edinburgh,” he said.

“I’ve only hand a handful of games for the club this season and it has been bugging me. I’m delighted to be allowed to play all these last run of games.

“I want to push the club towards the top six and help with that as much as possible.”

It has been well documented that Scotland have had a wretched time at Test level, making the return to Edinburgh almost a fresh start for many players.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air coming back to the Edinburgh set-up after being away with Scotland for the past couple of months. Scotland duty has meant being in a lot of hotels and under a lot of scrutiny and I’m personally looking forward to pulling on the Edinburgh jersey again. I’m positive about this last group of games.”

Meanwhile, Cairns, one of Scott’s former centre partners and, coincidentally, an ex-internationalist from Currie, is embarking on a coaching career having been forced into retirement through knee damage.

“I think Ben will do very well as a coach,” says Scott. “He’s very knowledgeable and a skilful player himself. He was always the kind of guy at training who was analysing and picking out things that would make him better.”