Edinburgh recharged and focused on slaying Dragons

Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis is relishing Sunday's Pro12 clash with the Dragons. Picture: SNS Group
Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis is relishing Sunday's Pro12 clash with the Dragons. Picture: SNS Group
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Ben Toolis is savouring a return to Guinness Pro12 action and hoping Edinburgh can show yet more progress under their interim head coach Duncan Hodge.

The team bounced back from a disappointing home setback to Zebre with a confident win over Ulster ahead of the international break and lock Toolis said the players are keen to get back to the work of moving up the league table.

“We had ten days. It was important to have a good break,” said the 24-year-old Brisbane-born Scotland cap ahead of Sunday’s trip to face Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

“I got away for a few days up north with Sammy Hidalgo-Clyne. It was good to rest up and get the feet up off the back of that good win against Ulster,” said Toolis.

“Physically and mentally it can be a strain week in, week out. So it was good for the boys to have a good break and switch off from rugby.

“But we got back into the swing of things last Thursday and the boys were keen to get back into it.”

Hodge, who names his side for Sunday’s game at noon today, took over from Alan Solomons at the end of September and enjoyed a three-match winning streak in Europe and the Pro12 before that Zebre shocker and the recovery against Ulster.

Toolis feels that the squad has, in the main, responded positively to the directions from their acting boss.

“The boys think he’s doing really well and we’re enjoying his style,” said the lock.

“It’s hard to come in through the season the way it happened and he’s had to find his feet but he has done really well. We’ve adapted to the way he wants to play. I think he’s starting to enjoy it now. We just need to keep improving and push on as a team.”

Asked what change Hodge had brought to the role, Toolis replied: “He’s taken a bit of edge off. If you want to try something, do it. Sometimes maybe in the past we’d be a bit worried it wouldn’t work out.”

As an internationalist, Toolis accepts that there is responsibility on him and others at a time when a chunk of Edinburgh’s senior players are on Scotland duty.

“Obviously there are a few youngsters in the squad [during these periods] and it’s up to me to use my experience and take on a leadership role, which is quite fun,” said 
Toolis. “It’s important for the less experienced players to step up and give us a bit of depth. It’s a chance for them, there are opportunities there.”

Toolis won his sole Scotland cap against Italy in the 2015 Six Nations and admits the sight of young pack-mates Allan Dell, Magnus Bradbury and Hamish Watson running out in dark blue the past two weeks has whetted his appetite for a return to the national squad.

“It’s good those boys getting their chance,” said. “But it’s not my call. I’ll just keep doing my job for Edinburgh and if the chance does come my way again I’ll be more than happy to have a crack.”