Alasdair Dickinson is from the same school but a different generation to Zander Fagerson, and the old stager is relishing his direct clash with the wonderkid in the Boxing Day 1872 Cup clash.
The veteran loosehead has returned from a seven-month absence due to a hamstring injury to the Edinburgh team just in time to lock horns with the 20-year-old, whose stock keeps rising despite his tender years after a successful Autumn tests campaign for Scotland and his part in the two recent wins over Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup.
And while Dickinson and Fagerson both went to the High School of Dundee at one time, there was fully 13 years between the time they were turning out for the school first XV at Mayfield.
“I believe Zander ended up at Strathallan after that because Dundee wasn’t posh enough for him,” joked Dickinson. “Seriously, I’ve been hugely impressed with him when we were involved with Scotland during the autumn.
“I get on really well with him, he’s a good kid who works hard and he’s certainly playing outstanding stuff at the moment.
“It was great for him to be blooded internationally in the autumn and he’s been a standout for Glasgow ever since then.”
Dickinson was with the squad but completing his rehab for the serious injury he suffered in the opening few minutes of Scotland’s first test in Japan this summer, and worked with fagerson then.
“He wants to learn, every time he’s at Scotland both in the autumn and eatrlier in the year he was asking questions all the time,” he said. “He clearly loves and is mad for it, and it’s a great thing for Scotland to have that level of competition at tight head. Zander’s just 20, we’ve got WP who is 29 and desperate to get back and it’s great to have that, they’ll both push each other.”
At 33 now, Dickinson admits it’s taken him a little time to get back to full steam after his long lay-off which prematurely ended a spell in which he was playing, by common consent, the best rugby of his long career.
“Mentally I feel really fresh, but I’m still a bit rusty as it was 7 months since I played for the first game against Stade Francais,” he said.
“Especially since it was a leg injury it’s taken a little time to get back in the groove, and there’s nothing that can replicate playing games so it’s just a matter of getting my reps in,” he said.
“It’s been great to come in when the boys are all so upbeat, but maybe as you get older you take a little longer to get back up to pace.”
Dikcinson actually made his Edinburgh debut in this fixture back in 2003 at Hughenden, in an Edinburgh team that had a few decent players in it.
“Scott Murray was there, Todd Blackadder, Brendan Laney, Chris Paterson, Wagga (Nathan Hines) and Simon Taylor among others,” he recalled. “It was a pretty good team that had reached the quarter-finals in Europe the year before.
“The last two years against them have been pretty good but it’s a different prospect at the weekend, what’s happened in the past doesn’t make a lot of difference.
“Much more relevant is the way both teams have played in the last couple games, they’re flying high at the moment in the league and in Europe and playing really well, but we can take confidence out of the two games with Stade, it’s just finding that 80 minute performance that is our Achilles’ Heel at the moment.”
Dickinson has been through too many derby games to put much stock in the idea that it constitutes a Scotland Six Nations trial.
“There’s always a bit of as special atmosphere when it’s Edinburgh-Glasgow, and of course the supporters always see a lot of head to head situations, almost as a trial for the Six Nations,” he said.
“When you get older you get slightly wiser, and I think if you put that much pressure on yourself by telling yourself it’s a Scotland trial then that’s when you’ll end up underperforming.
“It’s better to put that to the back of your mind as best you can and think, `I’ve just got to concentrate on my role’. You can’t select yourself for Scotland, so as long as you do your job and do it better than the other guy you’ll be in with a shout, and if you get selected, so be it.”
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