Life under Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh is “much tougher and more intense” than at Glasgow, but Andrew Davidson believes it is bringing out the best in him as a player.
The lock made the move along the M8 from Scotstoun during lockdown, admitting his frustration at the lack of playing opportunities with the Warriors during his time there.
However even with Jonny Gray moving on to Exeter and the chance of more opportunities this season with Glasgow particularly during international windows, he still stuck with the plan to move along despite both Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist being Edinburgh’s staples in the second row.
“It’s definitely been different,” he said. “It’s a tough environment, training’s hard, everyone’s at a good level, because Cockers has been there for a few years now, so coming in as a new boy you have to get to that level quickly.
“It’s quite a steep learning curve, but I’ve been really enjoying it. Training is tough but it’s rewarding. Physically I feel like I’m getting better, and gamewise, just week on week doing the small skills that forwards need to learn. Learning from someone like Cockers and the coaches with their experience is massive, so I’m really enjoying it.”
Davidson had spoken to Cockerill and SRU director of rugby Jim Mallinder before making the move, and it was a pretty honest sort of meeting.
“I was honest with them about how I was feeling at Glasgow, how much I was playing, and they were honest with me about where they would see me in the (Edinburgh) team,” he said.
“It’s also the way Edinburgh play in the forwards, which is evident in how many forwards are in the Scotland team. Cockers obviously does a good job with those guys, so it was a big factor in it. There was no pressure on me to make the move, but I wanted to do it.
“I was frustrated at the time, but looking back on it I realise I enjoyed my time at Glasgow. I’m happy with my decision, it’s one that I didn’t take lightly and it wasn’t a rash thing as I had all of lockdown to think it over, but it was a good decision.”
The difference between the camps is the demands on players, he added.
“It’s just how hard the boys work, I think that’s the main thing,” he continued. “Everyone buys into it and everyone works really hard.
“The intensity in training and the contact aspect, all the things you expect, are much higher at Edinburgh. Cockers told me that when he met me. He said ‘Look, it’s not going to be easy, but you’re going to be better for it, and you’re going to be playing better for it’.”
Davidson looks certain to get plenty playing time over the next two months with Gilchrist and Toolis involved with Scotland, and wants to make his mark on the team.
“Both those guys have been around Scotland squads for a long time and it’s really good to learn from them. Especially Grant, our lineout leader – he’s excellent with that sort of stuff.
“I’ve been in and around the team most weeks since I arrived, which is good, just learning the plays and getting up to speed with everything, so hopefully get a good opportunity to get some decent game time under my belt in those eight weeks.
“Motivation (for Munster this weekend) is huge. Last week we didn’t play the conditions properly. There were too many individual mistakes across the team – we just didn’t look after the ball in those conditions.
“It was just small things. So this week the sole focus has been on making sure we’re prepared as much as possible for this game and go out there and put our best performance out there and get our season back on track.”