John Hardie impresses in debut for Edinburgh

John Hardie enjoyed being in the back-row of a powerful scrum against Grenoble on Friday. Picture: SNS Group
John Hardie enjoyed being in the back-row of a powerful scrum against Grenoble on Friday. Picture: SNS Group
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Scotland back row John Hardie believes there is plenty more to come from him in an Edinburgh Rugby jersey in the coming weeks after he impressed on his debut.

The 27-year-old, who joined the capital outfit days after Scotland’s Rugby World Cup campaign ended last month, had to wait until Friday to get out on the BT Murrayfield pitch wearing red and black.

When the opportunity came to come here I wanted to grab it and I am really excited to be here. I feel this team can go a long way

John Hardie

While the 28-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Grenoble may not have been a great spectacle – the wet and windy weather made sure of that – the New Zealand-born back-row was quietly effective before leaving proceedings just after the hour mark.

Hardie’s arrival could not have come at a better time for Edinburgh, with David Denton having left for Bath Rugby last week, and now the former cannot wait to get a run of games under his belt in his first stint playing in Europe.

“It was good to get out there and play for Edinburgh. The conditions dictated that the match was setpiece orientated, but we played the conditions well and that helped us win the game,” he said.

“I do like getting my hands on the ball and perhaps being involved in a more open style of match, but in rugby you have to be prepared to play in all sorts of different types of games.

“No game is the same, that is the beauty of rugby, and I just enjoyed being out there with my new team-mates.”

In the first half, Hardie had a golden chance to mark his debut with a try. Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne slipped him a lovely pass from the base of the scrum and, from 20 metres out, Hardie looked like he could be going over for the score.

However, the wet ball slipped from his grasp and he knocked it on – “I could see the line and that was probably the problem. I got white line fever”, he joked.

Hardie had never been in Scotland before he was called up late on to Vern Cotter’s pre-World Cup training camp.

He made quite an impression during that time, though, and in the showpiece event and now he is just looking forward to getting settled in a new city and helping Edinburgh compete in the Pro12 and in Europe’s secondary competition.

“I know a lot of the boys from the Scotland squad and also a couple of guys [Nasi Manu and Phil Burleigh] from back in New Zealand so it has been easy to slot into things at Edinburgh,” he explained.

“I heard good things about Edinburgh and when the opportunity came to come here I wanted to grab it and I am really excited to be here and I feel this team can go a long way.

“I have been in the game long enough to adapt to different sorts of things. You just have to take things as they come and get your head down and train hard. Then when the chance comes to start matches you have to be ready. At Edinburgh, our scrum is pretty unreal to be honest. When you have guys like WP Nel, Ross Ford and Alasdair Dickinson on the form they were against Grenoble then it is pretty cool as a back-row because you are always going forward. It makes the rest of the game quite easy after that.

“You can’t really make an assessment on the differences between European rugby and Super Rugby just on one game, but there a lot of comparisons you can make between them.

“I probably have not seen enough Pro12 and European stuff yet to fully know the differences, but I look forward to finding out in the coming weeks.

“I think Edinburgh can do well in both the Pro12 and the Challenge Cup this season. There are a lot of good things happening here. There is still a lot to work on but that is a good thing.

“We have options to play different types of rugby here at Edinburgh, but it all depends on what the weather is doing, really. We are not one dimensional and we have a number of things up our sleeve to suit the situation.”

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons is looking forward to working with Hardie and stated: “I thought he went really well on Friday. He is an experienced player, his attention to detail is good and he will be a big player for us.

“It was just a pity that on the one breakout against Grenoble when Sam flipped a pass to him and he looked like he was going to score he could not quite take the pass – it would have been great for him to get a try.

“There is a lot more to come from him. He is just a guy who works hard and I am enjoying having him around the place.”