Prop Alasdair Dickinson wants to play his part in moving Edinburgh’s performance up a further notch when the focus switches back from European competition to Guinness Pro12 action against Newport Gwent Dragons at BT Murrayfield on Friday.
Dickinson has forged a powerful unit with Ross Ford and WP Nel at both club and international level. And that continuity, combined with a robust second row that will be bolstered when Grant Gilchrist returns to action, and a back row where fierce competition for places has been enhanced by the arrival of John Hardie, has enhanced the solidity of the Edinburgh pack.
The tighthead reached the 100- appearance mark for Edinburgh in the European opener against Grenoble – albeit that tally was achieved in two stints at the club which came either side of a spell when he played for Sale Sharks and Gloucester, having moved south at a time when uncertainty was the overriding sentiment at Murrayfield as the ownership of Edinburgh passed into private hands.
Now 32 and in his prime, Dickinson has become an indispensable part of the Scotland front row, where he packed down alongside his Edinburgh colleagues during the World Cup. And, in recent outings, the trio has trumped their Munster counterparts, yet somehow ended up on the losing side, then dominated in the win over Grenoble and followed that up by pummelling the young Agen front row last Friday.
“The scrum has gone well the last couple of weeks. It’s something we work hard at and the weather conditions dictated there were a lot of scrums – there were a lot of errors that led to scrums. We just had to apply pressure and try to get as much out of them as we could. It worked well, so I’m pretty pleased”, said the Dundonian after the Agen success.
A feature of that encounter was a penalty try that came about after a series of five scrums, each thwarted illegally by the Frenchmen.
“We had seen a couple of free- kicks go against us, so we had to be whiter than white and keep at it,” he added. “We managed to do that, put them under pressure, and got the reward with that penalty try. It felt like about 20 scrums, but it was good to get the fruits of our labour.”
Dickinson believes the involvement of the threesome at both international and club level is a positive factor in the quest for league progress.
“I think it’s a good thing. The guys that were playing when we were away were doing an excellent job. There is such strength in depth in the squad now. It was good to come back from the World Cup having been together.
“The World Cup was a tough one to take, so mentally it was good to come back with a different perspective, getting back into league action and back with your club team mates and striving for a different goal. It’s good to be back but we’ve got a lot to improve on,” he said.
Edinburgh’s recent results in the Pro12 have been disappointing and they will be looking to address that on Friday by transferring their European form onto the domestic stage.
“The last two games we have managed to get ourselves a couple of good wins and get a bit of momentum,” said Dickinson. “Now we go back into the league and that’s a different kettle of fish. We’ve got a tough game. We know we’re still in an uphill battle in the league.”