Jacobsen believes foreign legion can help end Dragons drought

ONE of Edinburgh’s home-bred stars, Allan Jacobsen, admitted that he feels more confident attempting to end a six-year drought in Newport as a result of the influx of foreign players to the capital this summer.

The words “drought” and “Newport” may seem incongruous in the same sentence but six years is the length of time Edinburgh players have been heading into the Welsh deep south and returning empty-handed.

Jacobsen shakes his head at that statistic. He feels strange making only his second start of the season five games in but says he feels less pressure on his shoulders with John Yapp and Willem Nel in the camp, despite the competition they bring.

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Jacobsen, who turned 34 last week, wondered if his time was up as he struggled through the second half of last season with worsening elbow and shoulder injuries and was forced to miss Scotland’s successful tour of Australasia. “As you get older you take longer to recover and I really noticed it last season,” he explained. “It was a long season. I started training for the World Cup straight after the [2011] Six Nations really, when they took us out of the games and, towards the end of last season, I was really struggling with my elbow and my shoulder.

“It wasn’t really affecting my game as such, it was the gym stuff but that has a knock-on effect on games. The elbow 
became gradually more and more irritating, while the shoulder is just an old man thing.

“But, having these guys [Yapp and Nel] here takes pressure off me because I don’t need to play all the time. I have always played my best when I’m playing all my time so now I’ve got to work out a way of playing my best without as much game-time, but I am hoping to use the weeks that I’m not playing to train harder and work on extra things. Last season I was playing every week pretty much 80 minutes and so there was no time for extra training. Between games you were just recovering, resting and getting ready for the next game and as the season went on I was struggling with gym work and didn’t feel I could do it.”

Edinburgh were very close to beating Leinster in Dublin last week, but close is not good enough for a team that has designs on the title. Defeats to Munster and Leinster at a time when both Irish provinces were vulnerable were disappointing, and in terming tonight’s match “critical”, Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley is aware of the need to build 
victories before the return to 
European action.

He has made seven changes to the side that lost to Leinster, Jacobsen, Robert McAlpine – who faces Scotland under-21 cap Ian Nimmo – Ross Rennie, Ben Atiga, Harry Leonard and Tim Visser come in, while Greig Laidlaw, Matt Scott and Ross Ford are among those rested. Former England hooker Andy Titterrell makes his first competitive start.

There is a gleam in Jacobsen’s eye that bodes well for both Edinburgh and Scotland this season. He talks of learning from new Welsh, South African and English team-mates and a desire to add silverware to the Walkerburn Sevens medal that remains an all-too-rare tangible prize from 15 years of senior rugby.

“I have always wanted to win stuff,” he added, “and last year we got on a roll in the Heineken Cup and that showed you what can happen. People say ‘you did really well, blah, blah, blah’, but all I’m thinking is ‘we got close, but we could get closer’.

“Why not? Why can’t we win something? I’ve only got a few years left to win something. Time is running out.”