New Edinburgh signing Rory Scholes knows the competition will be stiff but has set his sights on the No 15 jersey next season.
The 23-year-old has joined from Ulster, where he has predominantly played on the wing, but sees his future at full-back with his new club.
He appreciates that will be easier said than done with Blair Kinghorn and Glenn Bryce also vying for that position, but the opportunity to battle for a position he considers better suited to his game was one of the primary reasons for the move.
“I spoke to [Edinburgh coach] Alan Solomons a lot before . He gave me the opportunity to play at full-back. That is something I want to do. It is the position I enjoy most. I can play pretty well there but wasn’t getting the opportunity to play full-back so that was a big factor.
“I want to get regular game time. At my age I need to play at the highest level to get better.”
Scotland Under-20 prospect Kinghorn enjoyed a stunning breakthrough season at No 15 and, with Greig Tonks moving to London Irish, Bryce has joined from Glasgow Warriors.
“It is going to be tough but I back myself,” said Scholes. “Those two boys are brilliant, but there will be rotation and injuries. Whenever I get the chance to play I have to play well and stay in the team.”
Scholes made 26 appearances for Ulster, including a dozen in the Guinness Pro12 last season when he scored a try against Edinburgh in December.
After playing full-back at youth level it was out wide where the opportunities arose with the northern province. “It wasn’t really my decision but I was not going to complain about getting game time on the wing at a high level,” said the Belfast boy.
“Anywhere is better than playing nowhere. I like playing on the wing but the time is right for me to move back. It is something I want to do.I can have more influence, come into the game more when I want and have a more kicking game. I like the responsibility in defence as well.”
Scholes has been impressed with his new surroundings, saying he has enjoyed the buzz of the city at Festival time and has a familiar face in another Ulsterman, centre Michael Allen.“I have settled in very easily and I know Mikey from back home,” he said. “It has been seamless. I love the city as well. I am living with [wing] Alex Northam, who is a new signing as well. I played against him for Ireland Under-20s against Australia Under-20s and got in touch.”
Edinburgh play their first pre-season friendly at Sale Sharks a week on Friday and Scholes is looking forward to getting an early opportunity to impress.
“I want to expose myself for at least two years there so I can show I can play full-back,” he said. “I am happy to play wing too. It is a good string to my bow to play there. But I played all my age-grade stuff at 15. I played there until under-20 when I moved to the wing. When I got through in the Ulster set-up it was more on the wing. But when I was playing club or schools rugby it was at full-back.
“Before I signed my agent said Edinburgh were happy for me to play full-back. Hodgey [backs coach Duncan Hodge] and Alan [Solomons] had done their homework on me and watched all the footage when I played full-back and on the wing. They knew I could play at 15 and were happy to give me a shot.”
Scholes is confident that Edinburgh are moving towards a more expansive gameplan and is expecting to get plenty of attacking opportunities when selected.
“Edinburgh’s attack has evolved under Duncan and this is his first full season,” said Scholes.
“He has been brilliant since I got here and the stuff he has put in place has really worked. The attack shape and skill levels are up there and hopefully I can help the attack improve even more.”