IT is not quite a case of ‘now or never’, but Hamish Watson does concede that starring in so many hard luck stories with Edinburgh in the knock-out stages of major European competitions during the last seven years has provided extra focus and motivation this week as the team prepare for their United Rugby Championship play-off quarter-final clash against the Stormers in Cape Town. 

Edinburgh were beaten finalists in the 2015 European Challenge Cup, and then lost seven knock-out matches on the bounce in all competitions. They broke the run when they defeated Bath in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup this season, but then fell at the next hurdle against Wasps a few weeks later. 

“We’ve been in a few quarter-finals and semi-finals over the years and we need to try to win something,” said the flanker, who will celebrate his 31st birthday in October. “It doesn’t matter what age you are – you could be in your first season or your last season – our aim as a team is to try and do something special with this club.  

“So, I don’t really think boys being here for a long time has anything to do with it,” he adds. “We all have the same goal at this club and I think we’re heading in the right direction.  

“We’re taking it game by game at the moment and not looking too far ahead, but there’s no doubt it’s a huge game this weekend against the Stormers away from home and we know how hard it’s going to be, so if we win that, then let’s see what happens. 

Stormers – who finished second in the URC at the end of the regular season – are on an eight match unbeaten streak coming into Saturday’s game, but Edinburgh are buoyed by their comprehensive win over Glasgow Warriors last time out, which will have helped blow away some of the doubts which had inevitably started to take hold within the squad following back-to-back defeats to Ulster and Wasps. 

“We’ve just got to control the controllables and not suffer from the past, I guess,” said Watson.  "The Stormers have played really well, especially at home this season, so we know the size of the challenge that we’re up against. But that’s exciting – it’s a bit like the Sharks game where we came over and no-one really expected us to win that game. 

“The boys have trained really well this week. There’s a lot of energy – you can tell its knockout rugby – there’s that sense that it is a massive game. I think everyone knows how big this game is for all the players and the club as a whole. 

“Stormers have  got lots of jackal threats all over the park and they’re very physical, so we’ve got to have speed to ball, and we’ve got to make sure we're committing enough guys to the breakdown.”