Edinburgh wing Damien Hoyland makes no bones about the fact he is viewing Saturday’s season-ender against Glasgow at Scotstoun as an opportunity to play his way on to the plane for Scotland’s summer tour.
The 23-year-old has two caps to his name, against Italy in a World Cup warm-up and an appearance on last year’s June trip to Japan, but is keen to push his national claims, while acknowledging that Gregor Townsend is not short of options on the wings as he prepares to take the Scotland reins.
Even with Tommy Seymour out of the equation for the games in Australia, Fiji and against Italy in Singapore due to his Lions selection, Hoyland knows a number of players remain above him in the pecking order. But, asked if he views the 1872 Cup second leg which will bring down the Guinness Pro12 curtain for both the country’s pro teams as, effectively, a Scotland trial, he doesn’t mince his words.
“Truthfully yeah. It is a big game for everybody,” said Hoyland, who was one of the tryscorers for Edinburgh last Friday as they ended their nine-game losing streak with a win over Dragons at Myreside.
“The squad has not been announced. Those wanting to put their foot in the door for the tour will know they have a big game this weekend. They will want to catch Gregor Townsend’s eye.
“It is a big game being a derby and everything, but the boys will want to put their hand up for tour selection.”
Hoyland has been in and around the Scotland set-up since he was first included in Vern Cotter’s World Cup training group two summers ago. He has been in camp at Oriam for the autumn series and Six Nations without quite managing to force his way into the matchday 23. “Yes and no,” he said when asked if that has been a frustration. “It is great being involved and much better being there than not. Missing out on chances to play for your country when you are quite close is quite frustrating.
“But I would rather be in the mix rather than not being there.”
The fact Seymour is unavailable for the best possible reason does open a door but Hoyland said: “It is awesome him being picked for the Lions and opens up a spot on the tour but you look at all the wings on form and there is a pretty big list.
“Tommy, Rory Hughes, Lee Jones and a couple of boys down south in Tim Visser and Sean Maitland. There is still a lot of competition so it is never going to be easy to get in.”
Saturday evening’s match, which Glasgow go into with a 25-12 lead from the first leg of the 1872 Cup encounter at BT Murrayfield on Boxing Day, could well see veteran wing and cap centurion Sean Lamont handed a start for what will be his last act before retirement.
Hoyland would relish going up against a player he idolised as a youngster.
“I watched him quite a lot and got a pair of gloves pretending to be him when I was a lot younger,” he recalled. “It was great being involved with him, learning from him. He is a guy who I have looked up to from being quite young.
“The times I have been in camp with him he has been great. Whenever I had a question he would be happy to speak to me. He has been really good.”
The season which will come to an end on Saturday night has been one to forget for Edinburgh but Hoyland reckons that dramatic late rally in which they beat the Dragons has lifted confidence ahead of the trip west. “It was really important to win. The main thing was to show we don’t lose all the time and we can win,” said Hoyland. “If we string phases together and hold the ball regardless who we are playing against we can cause damage.
“We won our last game and know we have to hold ball and will come with everything that comes with derby games. Winning the way we did gives us a lot of confidence going into this game.
“Saturday is a game of rugby but a chance to get silverware and one up on our rivials.
“It is a derby game, the last game of the season and up against Glasgow. We have a lot to play for.
“Especially guys who want to put their hands up for selection for the summer tour.”