Magnus Bradbury reflected on a dark moment in his still young and promising career after it was announced that he has committed his future to Edinburgh.
The 24-year-old back-row forward was stripped of the captaincy and briefly banished from the club just over two years ago after a drunken incident in the capital’s city centre which left him unconscious on a pavement and having to be assisted by paramedics following a Friday night game.
“It was the darkest… all my own fault and it was bad time for me but it’s been a learning curve,” said Bradbury, who has since rebuilt to become a key man for Edinburgh and get himself back into the Scotland starting XV.
“I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for it – I’d rather it didn’t happen – but the lessons I’ve learned from that have helped me push on, and me and Cockers [head coach Richard Cockerill] have a much better understanding of one another now.
“Being excluded from the Edinburgh and Scotland teams for however long pushed me on and made me want more, and I’ve turned that situation around and I’m back on a good footing going forward.”
After signing Bradbury up for an undisclosed period, Cockerill sang the praises of a loose forward who, upon taking the Edinburgh job in the summer of 2017, he viewed as the fresh, young leader to kickstart the underperforming club.
A mistake was made and that was put on hold as first veteran lock Fraser McKenzie and then hooker Stuart McInally assumed the captaincy of a team which has blossomed under the English coach’s guidance and now sit proudly at the top of Guinness Pro14 Conference B.
Cockerill, pictured, believes that Bradbury could once again take on a leadership role.
“I think so. Look, the more confident you get in playing the game and understanding your role within the game, I think that leads naturally to being able to lead,” said the coach. “As long as he stays off the p***, he’s got more chance of leading the team, hasn’t he? We know the history on that.”
The son of SRU president Dee Bradbury, and product of Oban Lorne RFC before a move to Edinburgh to finish his studies at Merchiston Castle, the forward missed out on initial selection for last year’s World Cup squad in Japan but was called in as injury cover for his clubmate Hamish Watson. He went on to feature in three games, two from the start, with the last of his 11 caps, following a first one under Vern Cotter against Argentina in November 2016, coming in the 28-21 loss to Japan in Yokohama.
“He’s big and he’s aggressive, he’s a good ball-carrier: when he carries, he carries hard, and he’s good at getting over the gainline,” added Cockerill. “And when you run into him, you stay tackled. He’s a young man, still improving his game, obviously he’s a Test player, important to the national team as well.
“Part of the remit of us at Edinburgh is to have the best Scottish players and keep developing so that they can play for the national team, but obviously for me the objective is to keep them in Edinburgh and make sure we’re as good a team as we can be.”
Bradbury said the way he had been managed by Cockerill, after an episode which could well have derailed a promising career, has been vital to his subsequent progress.
“He’s a pretty honest guy so he’ll tell you straight up what he wants you to do,” said Bradbury. “For me, that’s the best thing from a coach. There’s no beating around the bush, they just tell you how they want you to improve and how they want you to play. I think it’s the best way you can progress as a player and that helps with Scotland stuff as well.”
With Edinburgh well-placed in the Pro14 and preparing for a big European Challenge Cup pool-topping clash at French league leaders Bordeaux this weekend, Bradbury is happy that his near future is secured.
“It’s always good,” he said. “I was lucky to get it done early doors and not have to worry about it.
“You never know, as the season goes on, what is going to happen and how that will affect your contract negotiations. I feel I came in at the right time on the back of a positive period of time for me. I felt it was the best time for me to settle my contract and be locked down for the next two years.
“There was little of interest from elsewhere but, for me, I wanted to stay here. With this period going forward with this team we have right now and the coaching staff we have got, it is the right place for me to be.
“With the results I feel we can produce in the next couple of seasons, I think it’s an exciting place to be.”