I sat down this week to speak to Edinburgh Rugby player Tom Brown about what the International Test window is like for the players left at the club and what they get up to with all the big names away.
Q: What has your Edinburgh Rugby schedule been like during this International window?
Tom Brown: Obviously without the matches we’ve got a bit of time to work on our own game, so we’ve been out on the training pitch a lot. I’m actually just in from fitness testing which they like to do in these weeks between games. It’s lots of hard work and running. It gives us time to look in detail at the matches we’ve had recently and look ahead to our next opponents, the Ospreys.
Q: Is it hard to work on tactical things with a large majority of the squad away?
TB: It’s a good opportunity for the boys who aren’t involved week in, week out to get up to speed with tactics like set moves and plays that we run. It really gives us a good chance to have a run out on the park. It’s also a good period for other, perhaps slightly younger members of the squad, to really step up and become leaders. There’s generally a good buzz around the club at the moment.
Q: After a year as a Pro, are you now one of those guys who has to take charge with some senior players away?
TB: I think going away on tour with Scotland and getting that experience over the summer has given me more of a leadership role. You feel that you want to get involved a bit more and encourage the younger boys in the Academy. I feel I’m comfortable enough now to give advice to them on things like video analysis and to voice my opinion.
Q: Is now a good time for the coaches here to have a closer look at those younger players coming through, and a chance for them to impress?
TB: Definitely. We see young boys coming up all the time when the Internationals are away. For example, last year with the Rugby World Cup and 6 Nations there was a lot of time for players in their first year as a Pro like myself to break in to the Edinburgh team. We have some really good young players coming up through the ranks now and it’s a good time for them to impress and take their opportunity when they get it.
Q: Any wonder-kids we should be keeping an eye out for?
TB: There are a few. There are some really good boys in the Academy. Flanker Hamish Watson is a very good player. He’s played a couple of times for Edinburgh. In terms of guys we haven’t seen much of yet, I think Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is one to look out for in the future. They’ve been really involved in training this week and it’s good to see them running around with confidence and getting their hands on the ball. There are plenty of others but those 2 come to mind.
Q: We’ve seen the Scotland Squad here today at Murrayfield even though they’ve been based a bit at Edinburgh Uni. With Edinburgh obviously based at Murrayfield too do you see those guys around a lot during these weeks even though you’re working with different teams?
TB: Yeah we see them around quite a lot. Obviously we know each other well so it’s always good to have a bit of craic in the tunnel. They get priority at this time in the gym and we’ve been kicked out of our changing room but that’s just part of it! We work around that and we have the 3 pitches at the back of the stadium so we still get our workload in and we get the same amount of time as Scotland in the same facilities. I live with David Denton so I obviously know what their schedule is like. But it’s good to have them around Murrayfield.
Q: How hard is it for those few Edinburgh games when the International players are away?
TB: It is, but as I said before it’s a real opportunity for the younger boys to break into the team. Last year when the Internationals were away was when I had the chance to play consistently for Edinburgh. The majority of teams are in the same situation. Against Ulster a couple of weeks ago we played well but they got 3 tries in a short space of time which killed us off and they were missing players too. We’re still the same squad and the players stepping up know what they have to do. It’s a big step up, but good experience.
Q: Do you feel more pressure yourself at those times to help those younger guys through the step up?
TB: I think so. Obviously it’s about setting an example on the pitch with your performance. We’ve got leaders in the squad like Sean Cox, John Houston and Andy Titterrell who have bags of experience so we can look to them as well.
Q: Personally, you’ve had a really good year, winning your first Scotland cap over summer in the win over Australia. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
TB: I was disappointed to not be involved in the Autumn Tests and I feel like I need to get a bit of form back. But I’m feeling good at the moment and I really want to push on. I’ve had that experience at International level and I’m hungry to get back there. I’m hoping to first of all put in the performances with Edinburgh and ultimately get back into the Scotland squad for the 6 Nations.
Q: 6 Nations and then Lions Tour?
TB: Haha, well we’ll see!