As one of the few genuine success stories to emerge from Scotland’s disappointing World Cup campaign, Jamie Ritchie is now desperate to keep his career trajectory on an upward slant, but the flanker knows he is going to have his work cut out if he is to do that given the competition for places he now faces back at Edinburgh.
Hamish Watson’s knee injury created the opportunity which he grabbed with both hands in Japan and that player is not due back in Edinburgh colours any time soon. However, that still leaves Magnus Bradbury, John Barclay and Viliame Mata returning from the World Cup, plus those who have carried the torch for Richard Cockerill’s side during the opening month of the season, all battling for selection.
“You have seen the guys when we have been away doing really well,” said Ritchie. “Ally Miller, Nick Haining and Luke Crosbie have really stepped up and are playing a more senior role in the team this year, which is great to see. It is a huge confidence boost for us coming back knowing these guys are playing well. But it also means we know that to get our jerseys back we need to perform to their level and higher.
“I welcome competition as it makes you better,” he continued. “It is the nature of our sport. If you are not playing well somebody can come in and put you out of your position so there is no hiding away from it. Guys have been injured or out of form and that has given me opportunities in my career, so I know how it goes.
“My ambition is to play as often and as well as I can. I’ve set a high standard for myself out in the World Cup and I’d like to maintain that. You’re only as good as your next game so for me the World Cup has gone, and I am looking forward to the next few weeks with Edinburgh.
“I just want to be better within myself. I’d love to keep playing for Scotland if I get the opportunity, but my bread and butter is Edinburgh. I love this club and if me playing well means that we start winning stuff, that’s great.”
Ritchie played 21 minutes off the bench for Edinburgh against the Dragons last weekend and is hopeful of being involved again tomorrow when the team kick-off their European Challenge Cup campaign away to Agen.