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Being left out of Edinburgh's weekend victory actually helped convince Dave Denton to re-sign

IN the end, it may not have been the critical factor in persuading him to remain with the club, but Edinburgh's 16-10 Heineken Cup victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm last Sunday certainly convinced Dave Denton that he had made the right choice in opting to extend his contract with the Murrayfield club for another two years.

Dave Denton decided to stay at Edinburgh despite a difficult second season.
Dave Denton decided to stay at Edinburgh despite a difficult second season.

The irony, of course, is that Denton was not actually playing on Sunday. But the simple fact that the club could afford to rest him, and still deliver such a strong performance, told the 23-year-old forward that Edinburgh are now heading in the right direction again and that they have become the sort of side he wants to be part of.

That, alone, represents considerable progress from the situation last year, when Denton suffered one of the most debilitating bouts of second-season syndrome that any player has ever gone through. Then, he would happily have jumped ship in the hope that his appetite and form might be revitalised by the change, but such is his confidence in Edinburgh now that he was able to ignore the overtures of Leicester and a host of other top clubs and renew his vows of allegiance to his current employers.

"There was a temptation to go elsewhere and it was fairly well known that I was talking to other clubs, but I've put a lot of thought into this," Denton explained. "The new coaching set-up at Edinburgh is really solid and I think it's going to benefit this team and me as an individual. That was part of my decision-making process. I want to be in a team that's winning games, but I need to be in a place where I'm going to develop into the best player I can be."

For that to happen, Denton believes that sitting out the odd game is crucial - even if that odd game produces a result and a performance that he would dearly love to be part of. "I've seen guys from the [English] Premiership and the [French] Top 14 coming into the Scotland camp and they are exhausted," he said.

"Last week shows that the Edinburgh coaches will look at us personally, will look after us as players, and not just flog us for 20 weeks in a row. That's important for young players in particular.

"To develop, you can't play every week because then you can't get any better. You can't get any stronger. When you are playing games you are only in the gym once a week and only training a limited amount because everything is geared towards games.

"This last week has been awesome for me, just getting a bit of time, and I've come back in revitalised and ready to train and play. I'm really looking forward to getting out there again."

His head coach, Alan Solomons, clearly shares that enthusiasm, having brought Denton back into the side for tonight's RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Leinster at Murrayfield. His return means a move back to the blindside flank for Cornell du Preez, who turned in another outstanding performance in Denton's favoured No.8 berth at Kingsholm. Greig Laidlaw and Nick De Luca, who were also rested for that match, will be in the starting lineup as well.

With openside flanker Roddy Grant, man of the match against Gloucester, joining Denton and Du Preez, the Edinburgh back row is made up entirely of players who effectively learned their rugby in South Africa. Solomons also announced another connection with his homeland yesterday when he confirmed the signing of fly-half Tony Fenner on a month-long loan.

Fenner, who was born in England and has also played in both New Zealand and Italy, spent two seasons under Solomons at the Eastern Province Kings, and the coach explained that he was an ideal figure to have around at a time when the club is going through something of an injury crisis in the playmaking berth.

"It's a trial," Solomons said. "That's a key position on the pitch and this is an opportunity to view people. We have a short-term problem at the moment and it's important that you have quality in that position, and also that you have three guys who can play there comfortably because that is a really key position on the rugby field."

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