CAPTAIN Greig Laidlaw believes Edinburgh are flourishing on the European stage because head coach Michael Bradley’s methods have grown on the players.
Edinburgh set up a Heineken Cup semi-final against Ulster with a surprise 19-14 success over four-times champions Toulouse on Saturday.
The victory was Edinburgh’s sixth in the competition this season – one more than they have managed in the RaboDirect PRO12, where they sit second bottom.
Laidlaw reckons they have progressed as a team after initially struggling to adapt to Bradley’s style when the former Ireland scrum-half and Connacht director of rugby joined the club last summer.
Laidlaw, who kicked 14 points on Saturday, told BBC Scotland: “Michael’s been hugely important. He has been a breath of fresh air for the club this year.
“He has brought in a sense of real direction on how he wants us to play the game.
“The players maybe never bought right into it at the start of the season.
“But now we are really buying into what he’s about and that’s why we’re getting these kind of results.”
Edinburgh have twice suffered defeat against Ulster in the league this year, conceding 80 points in the process.
Ulster, who beat Munster away from home in the last eight, will likely start as favourites at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 28 April but Laidlaw is convinced they can upset the odds again.
“It is going to be a hard game,” the Scotland fly-half said. “Ulster have been playing a lot of good rugby this year. They have a massive forward pack. They have some great players in there and some good South African players.
“It will be a tough test for us over in Ireland as well, but it was a tough test on Saturday and we did well against a big Toulouse pack and I thought our forwards were brilliant on Saturday.”
A crowd of 37,881 – a new UK record for the Heineken Cup quarter-final – was in attendance at Murrayfield on Saturday, while Edinburgh are expecting to take a decent travelling support to Dublin for the semi-final.
Laidlaw believes the great interest in Edinburgh’s run in the tournament is proof that there is backing in Scotland for the pro teams.
“It was a great achievement for the club and the players were extremely satisfied with their performance. It was great to see a massive crowd at Murrayfield,” he added. “This game really caught the imagination of the Scottish rugby public.
“It just shows that if Edinburgh, and Glasgow as well, are going to be involved in these big games at the end of the season, I truly believe there is a big support there for the pro teams in Scotland.”