Chris PATERSON believes a crumb of comfort from Scotland’s lowly Lions tour representation will be the chance to make a flying start to the domestic season.
With the RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures expected by the end of this week, all eyes will be on Edinburgh’s opening fixtures, which could be undertaken with some Irish and Welsh club rivals resting up after their exertions in Australia with the combined side, who only fielded one Scot – Richie Gray – as a replacement in Tests.
“It is a tough league, but the beauty this time is that with some opponents taking breaks there is the chance to make a flying start” said the former full back, adding: “If, two or three games in, Edinburgh have wins under their belt that could set them up for the season.
“I know that as a player I would only be back from tour a week and I’d be want to get involved but there are other things to consider including regulations insisting on rest periods.”
Paterson retired last year as Scotland’s cap record holder with 109 appearances and while he always makes a point of looking ahead, there was some empathy for those who failed to make the Lions squad.
After all, he had high hopes himself on previous occasions only to see them dashed.
“In 2001 I really wasn’t ready physically for the Lions and even if I was in the extended squad I had only been playing international rugby for a couple of years.
“The 2005 tour (to New Zealand) was the one I had targeted and I was comfortable with the way I played all that year.
“I had a couple of decent performances in the build up, but, hey ho, you get on with it. In 2009 I was on stand-by again but again I knew they just didn’t really want me.
“It wasn’t as big a disappointment as 2005 and I didn’t have to look far to find somebody in my position, whether it was a player who felt he should have been in his school team or a job applicant who’d been passed over.
“In rugby it helped to get back into training and find others in the squad pushing me.
“We would all like to have seen the Scots playing more of a role in the Lions Tests), but our reps were all young.
“I don’t think any of the Scottish Lions will be unavailable for the next tour especially Stuart Hogg who is only 21 and in his case the peak period might come in the subsequent tour.
“All four can only benefit from being in that environment, knowing what it is about.
“Can snubs work to Scotland’s advantage and be used as a spur?
“There will be disappointment, but the fact is the next time the Scottish tourists pull on boots on anger will be for their club sides and there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge between the start of the season and the next round of internationals.
“It may be crass to say the Lions situation will be forgotten by the RBS Six Nations but there is so much rugby to be played I’m not sure that it will carry over.
“If Scotland had been playing this weekend there might have been more of a reaction...”
Hopefully Paterson’s old Edinburgh team will have a coach installed long before the Autumn Tests having been operating with an interim (Stevie Scott) since March.
“There is a lot of uncertainty on the coaching side and the vacuum might affect some on a day-to-day basis because you want to know what’s happening.
“But always when you start to play it is to the best of your ability. I expect an appointment soon,” said Paterson who was speaking at the launch of the RBS Rugbyforce initiative which will see 149 clubs receive assistance in practical, financial and promotional ways,