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Matt Scott admits tempers have been flaring at Edinburgh's training sessions . . . and it's no bad thing

The forecasters might tell us that the festive mild spell is drawing to a close, but temperatures have been rising on the back pitches at Murrayfield according to the Edinburgh and Scotland centre Matt Scott.

Matt Scott's RBS 6 Nations prospects should not have been hampered by Edinburgh's slump in form. Picture: SNS
Matt Scott's RBS 6 Nations prospects should not have been hampered by Edinburgh's slump in form. Picture: SNS

In a confession that will inevitably provoke thoughts of Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini's recent training-ground contretemps, Scott revealed that Edinburgh's run of five straight defeats has added an intensity to their preparations.

"Recently there have been a few scraps on the training pitch," said Scott. "A few boys have been having a go at each other. I suppose that is good, it shows that people care. It is easy from the outside to say that maybe they don't care but that is certainly not the case."

Edinburgh supporters will probably be heartened by the thought that their team is brawling its way back to the kind of form that took them to a Heineken Cup semi-final last season, and the defence coach Billy McGinty is equally sanguine about a bit of how's-yer-father if it means his players are as frustrated with this season's results as he has been.

"We don't necessarily as coaches get it going," McGinty explained. "It's the players who bring that to the training park, and if there is a bit of nitty-gritty in there that's great because it shows they care and they want to do something for that weekend.

"There's an intensity in training, which is fantastic. If there wasn't any nitty-gritty in there you would be thinking: why not?"

Scott, who somehow managed to finish off his law degree while making his breakthrough into the Edinburgh and Scotland sides last season, is not the most obvious troublemaker in the capital club's ranks.

However, after back-to-back losses to Glasgow in the recent 1872 Cup matches the 32-year-old admitted that he feels he has a fight on his hands to extend the run in which he has started Scotland's last six matches and the sense of uncertainty is only increased by the arrival of Scott Johnson as caretaker national coach.

Scott said: "In a way, it is just the same as ever; I have got to try to play well to earn my spot because there is a lot of competition at the moment for centre places.

"But it is easier to impress in a winning team, obviously. With Glasgow running in tries against us, those guys are looking good at the moment. But if we are looking at it individually, you have got to try to play as well as you can.

"Coaches will always try to look beyond the form of the team and analyse how you are playing. If you are not playing well enough in that team, then you are not going to get picked. But I am hoping that I have played well enough to be in contention."

In fairness, Scott has not suffered the kind of conspicuous form slump that has affected a number of other Edinburgh players this season. When Johnson names his Six Nations training squad next week we will find out just how damaging that pattern might have been for some, but it is almost inconceivable that Scott will not be in the national picture once again.

Is he satisfied with his individual form? "Reasonably happy," he said, carefully. "I think up and down is probably the best way to describe it. I have done some good things but there has been the occasional mistake.

"Mistakes get highlighted more when you are losing. You probably glance over these things when you are winning, so it has been a bit harder in that respect. I have not had the same sort of confidence as last year from winning lots of games.

"But I am reasonably confident. If I play well I know I will be picked, so it is in my hands in that respect."

To a certain extent, Edinburgh's recent dismal run probably owes something to the fact that teams no longer take them as lightly as once they might. Similarly, Scott appreciates that the pressure upon him now, as an established Test player, is far greater than what he experienced last year when he was something of a surprise package himself.

"You are more in the spotlight if you are an internationalist," he pointed out. "People will be saying that you shouldn't be making this mistake or that mistake, whereas last year, when I had just come fresh out of club rugby, I think I got a little bit of a get out of jail free card on a lot of occasions.

"The mistakes were glanced over, which helps as a young player, but when you are an international then folk will expect more of you. It is up to us as players to deal with that."

Sunday's Heineken Cup meeting with Munster at Murrayfield will be the last chance for a number of players to state their case to Johnson ahead of the national squad selection. With hopes of a quarter-final place long since demolished, Edinburgh have nothing to gain from the match, but Scott explained that the 33-0 drubbing they suffered at the hands of the Irish side in Limerick last October has put a certain fire in their bellies.

Scott said: "It is a big motivation that they put a bit of a number on us at Thomond Park. We were all gutted after that game and, first and foremost, we want to avenge that. They have the chance to qualify and it would be great to dent their hopes in that respect.

"We also need a pick-me-up this season to get us kick-started again. This would be a great opportunity for us to do that against a team with the pedigree of Munster. There is still a lot of motivation going into this game. We are not taking it as 'we can't qualify, so we are not going to try'. We are really looking forward to it."

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