WP Nel on hitting major Edinburgh milestone, talks over his Scotland future and retirement question

Prop set for landmark match after missing out on Six Nations game time

WP Nel is set to make a landmark 200th appearance for Edinburgh on Saturday if he is selected to play against the Stormers. But, speaking from the squad’s training camp in Cape Town, the veteran tighthead admitted he is still unsure when another landmark – his final game before hanging up his boots – will be reached.

Nel is third equal at present for games played for Edinburgh, behind Allan Jacobsen’s apparently unassailable 273 and Chris Paterson’s 205. He turns 38 next month and has had niggling neck injuries which have restricted his appearances of late, although when fit he remains a valuable contributor. And whether he retires in the coming weeks or signs another short-term contract – something that Edinburgh seem more than willing to offer – his place in the history of the club is secure.

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“I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet,” he said. “If it comes this weekend it would be pretty special.

Scotland prop WP Nel is set make his 200th appearance for Edinburgh Rugby this weekend. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)Scotland prop WP Nel is set make his 200th appearance for Edinburgh Rugby this weekend. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)
Scotland prop WP Nel is set make his 200th appearance for Edinburgh Rugby this weekend. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)

“I wouldn’t have thought I’d play 100 games, so to play 200 is special. It’s not everyone who plays 200 games. To be part of this club for 12 years and get to 200 games, it’s definitely special. To be in that club with Mossy [Paterson] and Chunk [Jacobsen] is awesome.”

Asked if he wanted to carry on playing for at least another year, Nel suggested it was partly dependent on health issues. But, while insisting he had yet to decide, he sounded closer than in previous years to being reconciled to retirement.

“I don’t know,” he continued. “I haven’t thought about it. If something comes along, maybe. With my neck, there have been issues, and I’m not 26 or 28 any more, so that’s something I think about. If it’s fine and I can carry on, maybe. If not, I’m happy to stop as well.

“There’s nothing difficult to make the decision to end. I’ve done more than enough. I’ve achieved over and above what I ever thought I would. [If I had] to make the decision tomorrow I would. I’ve never seen me as someone who played with another club, so if I’m done I’d just finish with Edinburgh. My contract ends at the end of the season, so there’s stuff that we need to discuss.”

Even if he does sign a new deal, Nel is unsure if he will get the chance to play for Scotland again – he was called up to the squad for the Six Nations game against England, but in the end did not make the matchday 23 for any of the Championship’s five fixtures. He revealed that he has discussed his future with national coach Gregor Townsend, but did not reveal their content, and insisted that the issue was one more thing to which he had not devoted any time.

“It’s something I haven’t thought about. My neck did play up a bit and after the World Cup I thought I wouldn’t be mentioned to be back in the Six Nations. It was awesome to be back in the squad and be around the boys. But to not play – it was tough to watch.

“We [he and head coach Gregor Townsend] had some discussions, even through the Six Nations, about how things look for the future. That’s still something that will need to develop. Let’s see [if the door is closed]. Maybe, maybe not.”



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