It’s been a busy summer since my first tour with Scotland and my wedding shortly afterwards. I got back from my honeymoon a few weeks ago and got straight back into preseason training.
My honeymoon was amazing, which generally goes without saying, but we managed to escape to the Maldives which made it all the more special. The island we stayed in was only about thirty minutes by speed boat away from the main island Male, but the privacy and seclusion we felt you cannot beat.
Pre-season for Edinburgh Rugby is going really well. The boys who went on tour with Scotland were given an extra 4 weeks off training to recharge the batteries and get mentally right for the season ahead.
This extra time has been lovely as it’s actually the first time during my spell with the club that I haven’t completed the full twelve-week preseason training camp. The training camps are brilliant as they get you physically in the best shape before the season kicks off. During the camp they can be extremely testing, but once you come out of the other end you can really feel the benefits. Also they are fantastic as you can really add some bulk to your frame before the rigours of the season start.
But for me now, eight weeks feels perfect. I feel in the best shape – both physically and mentally – of my life. I didn’t really blow out much over the summer so getting fit wasn’t too much of a problem and the whole squad is looking and feeling fantastic and really geared up for the season.
Michael Bradley our head coach is a great motivator and he really wants us to improve individually and collectively. We’ve also got Neil Back this season as the new forwards coach who has been a fantastic addition to the management. He is, of course, a living legend within the game and he is not afraid to speak his mind, and when he does it always makes sense. He’s even given me a few pointers on my game, which are invaluable as you can’t buy his level of international experience.
Looking ahead to Scotland and our internationals coming up in the Autumn, where we have New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga, it’s going to be tough. Winning all three in the summer has given the squad a massive lift, especially beating Australia in Australia.
The All Blacks and Springboks will be yet another step up for us as a squad, but as we have proven in the last few years that anything is possible. For us the main aim is to build on the momentum that we created from the summer and make sure we leave the internationals with impetus looking forward.
For me personally, if I’m fit and selected, playing in front of a home passionate Scottish crowd at Murrayfield already has me buzzing for the season to start. I cannot wait to get there and show the fans what I can do in a Scotland shirt.
But that’s way too far in the future. My main aim for the moment is to stay fit and make sure Edinburgh Rugby start the season on the right foot. Our RaboDirect PRO12 form last season was not acceptable by anyone’s standards and we want to at least make the play-offs this season. To do that we need to start winning matches, the first of which will hopefully be Munster when the season kicks off.
Finally I thought I’d mention the Edinburgh festival – it’s awesome. We went to the Military Tattoo last week which was amazing and the city is just buzzing with people. If you ever get a chance to come and see it, take it.