The imminent return of Edinburgh’s Scotland stars may spell bad news for those players who have held the fort while the World Cup has been on, but Nick Haining, for one, sees it as a challenge, not a threat.
The 29-year-old Australian is in the most competitive area of all in Richard Cockerill’s squad – the back row. He has begun the team’s three Pro14 matches to date at No 8, but knows that to hold on to his place he must fight off challenges from Magnus Bradbury and Bill Mata. Factor in Jamie Ritchie and John Barclay, not to mention the currently injured Hamish Watson, and it is clear that in the months to come Haining faces a tough scrap even to win a place on the bench.
Yet, having made a good start with Edinburgh since joining from Bristol Bears in the summer, he is confident he can have a role to play over the course of what is sure to be a gruelling campaign. “It’s stacked,” he said of the competition in the back row, where Bradbury could return for Saturday’s home game against Scarlets. “It’s going to be very competitive. It’s good for us – it pushes us and we should be in a good position when everyone gets back.
“We’ll have a lot of rotations throughout the 13 weeks on the bounce [of Pro14 games] we’ve got coming up: everyone will play a part. Having all able bodies on board will be important. It’ll be massive to learn from the guys coming back.”
Edinburgh may have underperformed in losing to Leinster last time out, but Haining and the other new boys showed in their previous games against Zebre and Cardiff that they had integrated quickly, which the No 8 attributes in part to the suitability of the team’s more open style of play this season. “It’s been good so far – I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been adapting and getting the game plan down and getting used to everything.
“I like the open style of rugby that we get to play here: Cockers is big on that. And that suits my game.”