EDINBURGH centre Nick de Luca has witnessed more than his share of disappointments and experienced a few coaching changes but, returning to the Edinburgh side tonight after injury, he insisted that Scottish players were not as shorn of talent as the club’s results suggest.
The winless run in the Heineken cup, after last season’s semi-final finish, has particularly hurt players, he said, and there is a common purpose, in the wake of coach Michael Bradley being told he is on his way out, to prove in the remaining RaboDirect PRO12 matches that Edinburgh should be higher up the table than their current ninth place.
“It really hurts, looking at the table and the Heineken Cup,” he said. “It’s embarrassing.
“We’d finally put a marker down for Scottish rugby [last season] but have given everyone [critics] what they wanted in terms of ‘oh, it was a fluke, a blip’ and it really hurts as a team to be involved in a team that scored zero points in the Heineken Cup.
“It’s far too often that I’ve been in this position and we have eight games left to almost show Michael the respect we have for him as a coach. We haven’t performed and we’re a big part of him losing his job, so we are desperate to get out there against Cardiff and put a line under this season so far and start again really.
“Form is a funny thing and, if we had the answers to it [the slump], we wouldn’t need a coach. I can’t figure it out. We lost 30-3 last week and this week the training has been quality, a real edge to it, and there’s been a reaction from the players, which is fantastic to see. So I hope when I speak to you next week I can say ‘that’s the reaction we wanted and needed, and we’ve got the win we were desperate for’.”
That is the sum total of this season – a forlorn hope. De Luca insists that the players believe it is similar to the national picture, where one victory can spring fresh belief and he remains hopeful that that can come against the Blues tonight.
“We’ve got a great talented player base, and some of the guys pushing through now showed that at the weekend [in Scotland’s win over Italy], so I hope that Scotland’s now on the up,” he added.