DAVID Denton is set to end five months of frustration tonight by coming off the bench for Edinburgh against Lyon – and hopes his return is not too late for him to play a part in next month’s Autumn Tests.
Named among the substitutes for this evening’s European Rugby Challenge Cup match at BT Murrayfield, the No 8 was listed as “not considered due to injury” when the Scotland squad for the internationals against Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga was announced at the start of the week. But, while the first of those games is only a fortnight away and therefore too near, Denton believes that the match against the All Blacks is a realistic target provided he proves his form and fitness for Edinburgh first.
“It was never a feasible option [to play against Argentina] unless I had come back a week early,” said Denton, who is making a return from a concussion lay-off and subsequent hamstring tear. “It’s not worth the risk me coming back and if I did this again, suddenly I’m looking at the Six Nations and thinking ‘Is that going to be an option?’
“Getting back into the Scotland squad is huge for me – playing for my country is the biggest thing you can do. But at the moment I’m looking into coming off the bench [for Edinburgh] hopefully for 30-40 minutes. If I can get a good shift in there, suddenly you start looking towards the New Zealand game.
“The plan has been to come back gradually, but I feel ready. I’ve had about a month of solid pre-season. I feel in very good physical shape,” he continued. “The Leinster game at the end of last season, I picked up a pretty severe concussion. At the time I didn’t think it was too bad, but I got ruled out of the summer tour with Scotland.
“They sent me away on an extended break to recover. Then on my second day of pre-season, it had been ten weeks since I had trained and I tore my hamstring. I think it was a bit of a shock to my body, from doing nothing for a period of time.”
The 24 year old knows that there are easier matches in which to return than one against a team of Lyon’s calibre, but, having seen his team-mates win in France last weekend against Bordeaux Begles, he is confident of making it two victories from two matches in Pool Four. “The most physical games I’ve played have been against French opposition. There’s no doubt that it is going to be a very physical game.
“They can move as well, their backs are quick and it brings a lot of demands on you physically. But if we get stuck into them nice and early, we’ll give ourselves a real good chance of winning this game.”