Mike Coman looking for Edinburgh to keep improving after Blues win
Edinburgh Rugby captain reflects on Edinburgh's up and down season so far and a busy run of games ahead of the Six Nations
At the start of the Guinness PRO12 season, there was a few surprised heads when Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons named Mike Coman, a New Zealand-born back row, as his club captain ahead of Scottish international lock Grant Gilchrist as vice-captain.
The 27-year-old former Hawkes Bay loose forward had captained Edinburgh in the absence of Greig Laidlaw last season while the Six Nations was in full flow and, with Gilchrist expected to be a major part of Vern Cotter’s Scotland squad in the coming 12 months, it made more sense to have someone leading the team who would be around throughout.
“There is a nucleus of us here the whole time,” Coman said. “We have got to work around that, and we are the guys here, week in, week out.”
Just as Edinburgh’s campaign has taken many dips and tumbles throughout the opening eight rounds of the PRO12, and first two rounds of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, Coman has been one of the many unfortunate visitors to a treatment room full of walking wounded that has plagued the capital club this season.
Admitting it has been frustrating for him as the chosen leader, he does however take a more uplifting look at events after the Gunners defeated Cardiff Blues 28-13 at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.
“We have to remain positive,” he added.
“It’s getting there. We work really hard for one another, we train hard, and it’s good to see rewards coming our way.”
It’s getting there. We work really hard for one another, we train hard, and it’s good to see rewards coming our way.
And for Solomons and his captain, there is a shared value of importance placed on the next block of games before their international players are plucked away at the end of January for the start of the Six Nations.
Alongside the 1872 Cup double header against rivals Glasgow Warriors over the festive period, back-to-back Challenge Cup clashes with London Welsh next month, and a potential must-win contest against Connacht in Galway in January, Coman and his team must negotiate their way past Italian opposition in the form of Zebre and Benetton Treviso, the PRO12’s traditional whipping boys, who continue to cause problems for undercooked sides.
“These are the games that really test us,” he said.
“Against the Leinsters and Munsters, people haven’t given us a chance and we have performed well.
“The games we have struggled in are the ones we need to perform in and have gone in as slight favourites.”
Edinburgh have welcomed back their Scotland internationals after the viagogo Autumn Tests and, as well as backs Tim Visser and Dougie Fife, Solomons will be looking to quickly reintegrate experienced forwards Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and Dave Denton back into his Gunners team for their key fixtures.
Coman paid tribute to the returning forwards, but has a much stronger message to all his team-mates if they are to push for a place in the PRO12 top six to guarantee them a place among Europe’s elite in the Champions Cup next season.
“They are world-class players and it’s important to have them guys around,” he said.
“We have to play well and keep improving. We can’t afford to be on this rollercoaster we have talked about. We need to be steady.”