Fraser McKenzie has moved up from the ranks to take the captaincy and a primary role in re-asserting discipline at Edinburgh – but he envisages giving the armband back to Magnus Bradbury in time.
Bradbury was stripped of the captaincy by head coach Richard Cockerill as the sanction for his conduct off the field, sustaining a head injury on a night out which led to him being suspended and missing for three weeks.
But although McKenzie has embraced taking over and the specific role of “driving standards on and off the field” Cockerill wants, he sees Bradbury bouncing back.
“Magnus is a fantastic person, a good guy,” said the former Dunfermline junior player. “He has made a mistake but he is a young guy.
“I thought that was the right to decision (to make him captain) but he has made this mistake and he has paid the price. He knows that and he will address the team himself this week. He is back in training and I have no doubt that it will be a positive reaction from him.
“What I want to see from Magnus now is him coming back, proving a point and getting into the Scotland squad. Eventually he will be captain for Edinburgh again and maybe go on further but that is on him making good decisions and learning from his mistakes.
“I think mistakes will help propel him potentially into a better mindset and will only help his onfield stuff as well.”
With John Hardie also suspended under an internal investigation – reportedly relating to use of cocaine – McKenzie has a clear role which is far broader than his usual combative second row duties.
“In my role as club captain, I may not necessarily always be out on the pitch but I’ll be driving the standards off and on the field,” he said.
“I’ll guide people into making good decisions. I feel that I have always helped other players within my position and I have always been willing to put a hand out and say ‘look if there are any issues, come to me’.
“I have plenty of good guys around me, some experienced guys but also young guys who want to learn so that will help my job.
“I am privileged to be captain, I have been here for a lot of years now, the club means a lot to me and I want to see it do well. I want to see the club driving forward.”
Cockerill’s statement that the culture at Edinburgh is “loose” is not one that Mckenzie entirely agrees with, but he does understand that perceptions have to change.
“Two isolated incidents have not helped, but I don’t think there is a bad culture about the club, I don’t think we have an issue with our standards,” he continued.
“I think we need a disciplined environment. Some players go out on the Saturday night after a game, the majority of players don’t. We have got a young side and young players have sometimes not been guided into this role.
“The older players in the team needed to guide them into making good decisions and help them. I think that is what Cockers was trying to say; we need to be tight knit, our standards need to be high so they take the club forward and build the culture with a buzz around the club.
“That was one of our goals at the start of the season and nothing has changed, we are still trying to build that the culture and that buzz at the club.”
Players have already come together to try to assert focus away from the off-field matters and on to this weekend’s game at Benetton, who defeated Edinburgh at Myreside just a month ago.
“We have had conversations within the squad saying `look, we need to out this to one side’. The off-field stuff and what happens with John is outwith our hands.
“The last three games we have gone out during this storm above have won three games quite convincingly and now we are looking forward to Treviso this week.
“In terms of getting out of Scotland to go and focus on rugby it is not a bad thing to go there this week.
“We fully respect Treviso, they are an extremely good side and have proved that with their results this season. They are not of the team that they were last year or the year before so we know it is going to be a really tough game and that if we are not prepared, we will pay the price.
“Our mindset is focused purely on the rugby and training this week. The rest of the external stuff can take a back step at the moment in my eyes and it can get dealt with by other people.”