Chris Paterson foresees battle royal for No 10 sport at Edinburgh

Jaco van der Walt, centre, settled in very quickly when he joined Edinburgh last season. Picture: SNS/SRU
Jaco van der Walt, centre, settled in very quickly when he joined Edinburgh last season. Picture: SNS/SRU
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There is going to be a real 
battle for the No 10 jersey this coming season at Edinburgh Rugby, according to Scotland legend Chris Paterson.

Many were surprised earlier this year when head coach Richard Cockerill stated that Duncan Weir, who had been his first choice stand-off at the start of 2017-18, was going to be allowed to leave in the summer.

The Scotland international is now with Worcester Warriors while Edinburgh’s top two in the pivotal position with the new campaign just around the corner are Jaco van der Walt and Simon Hickey.

South African Van der Walt moved to the capital last November after Weir picked up a groin injury and immediately hit the ground running as a playmaker.

He started the majority of matches for the rest of the campaign, but with former New Zealand Under-20 cap Hickey having signed on from Bordeaux Begles things could be interesting in the lead-up to the first friendly against Bath next Friday and then the competitive season opener at the Ospreys on 31 August.

As part of his wide-ranging role at Scottish Rugby, ex-Scotland full-back Paterson works with the kickers from both pro teams in a specialist coaching capacity.

He worked with Van der Walt and Hickey, who are both 24, during July and said: “It is going to be a really interesting tussle between these two I feel. They both have real quality.

“Jaco showed everyone just how good he can be last season and for a guy coming into a foreign club and a different type of game he settled in very quickly.

“I worked with Simon for the first time recently and he came across as a very composed player who almost seems to have experience beyond his 24 years.

“He has been going well in France for the last couple of years and I think he can make a team and a backline tick.

“He has great distribution and can kick very well, all the things you want from your 10.

“They will push each other on and we will see what happens in the coming weeks and months ahead.”

Meanwhile, Paterson, who won 109 international caps between 1999 and 2011 and also played for Edinburgh between 1999 and 2007 and 2008 and 2012, is excited to see Matt Scott back playing for his hometown club.

Centre Scott played more than 60 games for the pro side between 2011 and 2016 having come through the ranks at Currie.

The 27-year-old, who also has 39 Scotland appearances under his belt, spent the last two years at Gloucester, but is back and ready to hit the ground running in the Guinness Pro14.

“Matt Scott is so dangerous with ball in hand, he has matured well with two years playing elsewhere and he could be a big player for them this year,” 40-year-old 
Paterson said.

“When he was younger Matt sometimes made errors, but I think that is out of his game now and he really does push defences and make them work and that often creates space for himself or for others around him.

“He has tightened up his game defensively and is quite experienced now, so I think he will go on and become quite a big voice in the Edinburgh changing room going 

“There are other good centres at the club like Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, James Johnstone and Juan Pablo Socino, and when you have guys in the midfield like that creating chances for the likes of Duhan van der Merwe and Blair Kinghorn then it is shaping up to be an exciting season 
at Edinburgh.”