David Denton hails Edinburgh’s South Africans

David Denton says Edinburgh need to have a group of players who believe they can win things. Picture: SNS
David Denton says Edinburgh need to have a group of players who believe they can win things. Picture: SNS
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DAVID Denton was born in Zimbabwe and schooled at Kingswood College in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, before moving to Scotland when he was 18 years of age.

So, with a foot in both camps, the 24-year-old is in an ideal position to assess the impact that the arrival of a raft of South African imports has had on the general outlook of the Edinburgh squad this season – and he insists he has been impressed by the steely determination which they have brought to the party.

He has been particularly impressed by the huge impact made by fellow back-rower Cornell du Preez. “Obviously there has been a huge fuss kicked up recently about the bringing in of foreign players, but someone like Cornell shows how important that can be. He has been awesome,” said Denton.

“South Africans come with a very different mind-set,” he continued. “It’s not that we’ve ever become accustomed to losing in Scotland, but I remember speaking to Cornell after being beaten in the Treviso game and he just could not believe that we could lose to a team from Italy.

“Guys like Cornell have grown up in a nation that wins the majority of its games and it is important that we have that same mind-set within our squad – because we need to have a group of players that truly believe they can win things.”

This power of positive thinking is going to be invaluable to Edinburgh as they enter the final month of this Rabo Direct Pro 12 season. Coach ASolomons and his squad continue to stick to the party line that finishing in the top six (which would mean they qualify to play in the top tier of European competition next season) is still a realistic target – but it is a massive ask.

Edinburgh are currently seventh in the Rabo table. They are seven points behind sixth placed Scarlets with a game in hand, which means that even if they win all five of their remaining fixtures, they are still relying on the Welshmen slipping up somewhere along the road. And there is no doubt about which of the two teams has the easier run-in, with the Scarlets’ last four outings being against Zebre, Cardiff Blues twice and Newport Gwent Dragons. Only one of those matches is away from home (against the Blues next weekend), and none of them are against a team currently higher than the Scarlets in the table.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, will be quietly confident of getting a good result against the Blues at Meggetland tonight and away to Zebre next weekend, but then face three monumental challenges in the shape of Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun, Munster at home, and finally Leinster at the Royal Dublin Showground. So, it is not only going to be a test of the team’s rugby playing ability but also their mental fortitude; and with that in mind, Solomons is hoping that his controversial policy of bolstering the team with an ever expanding legion of foreign recruits will be vindicated in the way they approach the task.

“South Africans and New Zealanders have a different way of looking at things. If you look at those two countries, rugby is a massively important game. So they come out of this hot-bed environment, and that does make a difference,” he said.

“Cornell would have grown up in an environment where he wouldn’t have lost many games, and Andries Strauss went to Grey College in Bloemfontein so probably wouldn’t have lost a single game at school. So, if you go to the elite South African schools, you are not used to losing and that rubs off on you.’

Solomons has named an unchanged team from the side which dispatched the Dragons eight days ago.


15 J Cuthbert

14 S Hidalgo-Clyne

13 M Scott

12 A Strauss

11 T Brown

10 H Leonard

9 G Hart

1 A Dickinson

2 R Ford

3 W Nel

4 G Gilchrist

5 I vd Westhuizen

6 M Coman (cap)

7 C Du Preez

8 D Denton


16 J Hilterbrand

17 W Blaauw

18 S Berghan

19 O Atkins

20 R Grant

21 S Kennedy

22 C Bezuidenhout

23 S Beard


15 D Fish

14 A Cuthbert

13 C Allen

12 I Tuifu

11 C Czekaj

10 G Davies

9 L Jones

1 G Jenkins (cap)

2 K Dacey

3 T Filise

4 L Reed

5 F Paulo

6 M Cook

7 J Navidi

8 R Copeland


16 M Rees

17 T Davies

18 S Andrews

19 B Davies

20 E Jenkins

21 L Williams

22 S Humberstone

23 D Hewitt