A home defeat by French high-flyers La Rochelle in their opening Heineken Champions Cup match was a setback for Richard Cockerill’s side and things are unlikely to get any easier this weekend when they face Sale Sharks in Salford.
It was hoped a return to Europe’s elite competition would offer Edinburgh some respite from their Pro14 struggles. The squad struggled without their Scotland players but they’re back now and Dean hopes they can spark a change in fortunes.
“It’s been a tough start to our season,” acknowledged the centre. “The whole Autumn Cup and Scotland players being in a bubble and not being allowed to come back to Edinburgh was difficult. But it’s two-fold – you obviously want guys to be experiencing international honours, so it’s great in that sense, but we had to fight hard in training with the group of guys we had and we learned a lot in that period.
“But yes, I do think we are looking for a kick-start to the season because in years gone by we started better and got ourselves in better situations so we’re probably a little bit let down by the start we’ve had but there’s still a lot of rugby to go.”
It’s a landmark occasion for Dean who grew up in North Berwick supporting Edinburgh and will now join a select band of players to have made a century of appearances for the club.
“When you see the names up on the board in the team room when you first join, it was something I felt was unrealistic at the time, or a long way away, but it’s crept up,” he said. “To be able to be a centurion for the club I grew up supporting and the only one I have ever played for is something pretty special and not an achievement I’m taking for granted.
“The likes of Simon Taylor, Simon Webster and Mike Blair are the kind of guys I remember absolutely adoring growing up. And then also the guys I’m playing alongside now, like Stuart McInally, Grant Gilchrist, Cornell du Preez, Hamish Watson – you’re certainly on a board with a lot of fantastic names. It’s a privilege.
Dean said the arrival of Cockerill in 2017 helped convince him would reach the 100 mark.
“I knew Cockers coming in was a big deal, with the aura he bought with him it was pretty apparent that it was going to be very cut-throat as to whether or not you cut the gravy with him,” he said.
“So when I played a fair bit under him in his first two seasons and we had a decent run in Europe, I could see that the number was getting closer and I was pretty sure I could make it to 100 if I pushed myself. It’s a massive privilege because when I set my career goals out one of them was to be a club centurion. Wearing that shirt with a 100 on it will be pretty special. It’s very exciting for me.”