Dave DENTON has vowed to repay coaches’ faith when he rounds off an injury-hit season on tour with Scotland in South Africa next month.
The Edinburgh back-row forward was a surprise selection in some quarters, given he has not played since March 1 because of a knee injury. He leapfrogged Glasgow rival Rob Harley to gain a place on the plane for matches against Samoa (June 8) and South Africa a week later, with a third game in what is a quadrangular tournament also featuring Italy lined-up up for June 22.
Denton, pictured, who went to school in South Africa said: “I’m delighted the coaches have shown faith in me. To be able to play in stadiums I used to watch games in will be amazing.”
The 23-year-old, who owes his eligibility to a Scottish mum and who arrived at Edinburgh Accies to fulfil international aspirations shortly after leaving school, believes his chance might be reward for his role in last season’s 12-8 Six Nations victory over Ireland at Murrayfield.
Denton, who had come off the bench as a 70th-minute replacement for captain Kelly Brown, really stood up to be counted as Ireland threw everything at the home defence in a bid to salvage victory.
“That Irish match was a very important step for me,” admitted Denton. “It was very, very nerve-wracking until they knocked on in the final play, but throughout the closing stages defence which we’d been working on held strong.
“I’m glad I was able to play a part in that.”
Scotland director of rugby and acting head coach Scott Johnson admitted to some misgivings about including Denton when announcing his squad.
He said: “That was a difficult one for us. I thought long and hard about Dents.
“He’s big, abrasive and a good ball carrier. I felt it would be beneficial to take him and see how he is against abrasive sides. When I thought about the long-term future of Dents I thought the tour was good for him and his development. He is important for us going forward if we get the best out of him.
“Not many sides around the world have a 6ft 5in, 117kgs No. 8.”
Throughout 2011-12, Denton was an ever-present Six Nations starter and figured half-a-dozen times in Edinburgh’s European Cup adventure through to the semi-finals.
However, having gained 12 caps so far, a first outside Europe beckons and by rising to the challenge, Denton will put himself firmly on the road to a first World Cup in just over two years.