Magnus Bradbury back on form after stint in Cockerill's doghouse
One of the joys of being 22 is irrepressible bouncebackability and Edinburgh back-rower Magnus Bradbury is on tip-top form again seven months after things came, quite literally, crashing down.
Many will have experienced hangovers which induce lingering regrets at that age but Bradbury gave himself a real humdinger back in October when a night out went awry and his head had an unpleasant meeting with a city centre pavement, requiring ambulance assistance.
The incident came only a few weeks after new coach Richard Cockerill had placed his faith in the youngster, who had made an impressive impact in his fledgling professional career, and made him his club captain.
A naturally nonplussed Cockerill did not hesitate in making a swift reverse on that decision and Bradbury, who was not fit to play due to the self-inflicted head injury sustained, was told to stay away from the club and stew for a couple of weeks.
That time in the doghouse no doubt allowed him some painful reflection, but Bradbury has put that difficult period behind him.
“Cockers said to me, ‘it’s about how you react to it all’,” said the two-times capped forward from Oban. “I never expected to walk straight back into the team, because who would put me straight back? I had to earn my position back.
“I just had to get my head down for those couple of weeks and keep trucking on, working hard on the training pitch and showing I wanted to be back involved.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for me this season. I’d like to say I’m happy with my performances at the moment; I can always get better, everyone can always get better. It’s about trying to get the finished product on the field every week.
“It has been a big learning curve for me this season. But I’m happy with it at the moment.”
Much of that happiness stems from the wider feelgood factor of Edinburgh’s fine season, which continues tomorrow with the Guinness Pro14 quarter-final against Munster at Thomond Park.
“It’s pretty good, as you’d imagine,” said Bradbury when asked to describe the mood in the camp this week. “These are pretty exciting times. It’s the first time we’ve ever been in the play-offs so we’re just going out there as if it’s another game, but we’re going there to win.”
Bradbury accepts the underdogs tag, but with some reluctance given the scalps the resurgent capital team have collected through a stellar season in which they have won 20 of their 28 games in the Pro14 and Europe so far.
“I imagine a lot of people will expect Munster to win this one,” he said. “But we’ve beaten them already this season [12-6 at home] and we’ve proved we can beat the best teams.
“We beat Glasgow twice, we’ve beaten Leinster, we’ve beaten all these top teams. We are going out there to win.
“At the end of the day it’s just another game. But it’s a game we have to win because otherwise it’s the end of our season. We are going out there to win so we will see where that takes us.”
Thomond Park is one of European rugby’s most daunting away venues but it is a place where you at least know what to expect – a ferocious onslaught up front which will have to be repelled if there is any chance of booking a return across the Irish Sea to face Leinster in the semi-finals.
“How we’ve identified to beat Munster is to match them up front physically,” explained Bradbury. “They like to impose themselves on the game early on, but if we combat that and let our backs play in behind them we have got every chance.
“I played there at the start of last season [a 28-14 defeat]. The atmosphere doesn’t matter, it is who is on the field at the end of the day.
“They [the Munster crowd] can be as loud as they want but if they’re not on the field then they won’t bother us.”