EDINBURGH stunned some of their opponents - and delighted their own supporters - with their new, far more adventurous style of play last season. The element of surprise will be gone this time round, of course, but Hamish Watson, for one, believes the same formula can have similar if not greater success.

The Scotland openside is convinced that his team made considerable progress in their first campaign under Mike Blair, whose preference for a fast, attacking game was a distinct contrast to how the team had played under Richard Cockerill. As he looks ahead to the new URC season, which begins for Edinburgh with a home game against the Dragons on Saturday, Watson believes that the key to continuing that progress is for the team to become more clinical.

“I guess in the end it was kind of annoying the way the season ended,” he said. “I think we always knew that the quarter-final away at the Stormers was going to be a tough game. Although we were in it, and could have won it, we knew that was always going to be a tough match-up.

“We did maybe just fade away a little bit at the end of the season, but as a whole I thought we had a really good season. First season under Mike, it’s never easy coming in and trying to embed the cultures that you want to change and the playing styles that need changing, and I thought he did that really well.

“You saw the balance he had in the team, and the guys he’s brought in since then. I think the squad is in a really good place. We’ve got a few big players coming back from injuries, so I think Edinburgh is in a pretty good place going into the new season.”

One significant change in recent months has been the departure of defence coach Calum MacRae, to be replaced by Michael Todd. With Blair still at the helm, however, there will be no appreciable alteration in the style of rugby played. But if teams now know what to expect from Edinburgh, that does not mean that they will know how to cope with it, according to Watson.

“I guess you lose the element of surprise after the first game once you see the way we are playing,” he continued. “It’s one thing knowing how we want to play and another thing stopping it. We still want to do what we’re doing last season but we need to be a bit more clinical and need to know when to chuck those offloads - and when we’re down there we need to come away with points. Not much really changes for us and I guess it’s how teams learn to deal with that.

“When we look back at last season, I think our attack was really good and up there with most line-breaks in the URC, most tackle-breaks and all the right stuff. But I think the thing we were probably lacking was our conversion rate once we got down in that 22. We didn’t turn many of those line-breaks into points at times and I think we can definitely be a bit more clinical. So that’s definitely something we’re looking at working on in pre-season and hopefully getting better going into the season.”

In addition to having a new head coach last season, Edinburgh had a new stand-off - Blair Kinghorn, whose move up from full-back was emblematic of the more assertive, adventurous style adopted by the team. Watson believes his Scotland team-mate adapted really well to the new position, and is confident that Kinghorn can continue to mature in his new position during this campaign.

“I think last season he was amazing. He’s up there with the most exciting 10s in the league. 

“He’s going into only his second full year at 10, so you might expect the odd little error. But I think what he’s doing at 10 at the moment for club and country has been really good.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy for someone to change from 15 to 10. I know he played a bit when he was younger, but I think the way he adapted, and how quickly he adapted, he did a great job for us.”