Edinburgh aren’t surprised they have defied the odds of 14-1 to win their Pool in the Heineken Champions’ Cup and emerged as the dominant force with one foot in the quarter-finals, says lock Ben Toolis.
However the big lock – a key component in Edinburgh’s setpiece dominance over Newcastle in the 21-8 win on Sunday at Kingston Park – admitted that timely reminders that they WERE good enough are required from time to time as the capital club aim for a last eight place for only the third time in the main European competition having been absent from it for four years.
“I’m not really surprised at all we’ve beaten the odds,” he said. “I know when we play well we can compete with anyone.
“No-one looked at the odds, we were just focusing on ourselves and felt we could get out of the pool stage. We just need to take this European form back into the Pro14 now, because that’s been a bit frustrating. We need to get a few more wins there.”
Edinburgh hadn’t won away from Murrayfield for eight months, and Toolis agreed that they had been slightly tentative in the first half in Sunday’s game until head coach Richard Cockerill reminded them they had the winning of the game.
“I think we had left ten to 20 per cent out there (in the first half),” he said. “We were a bit conservative, seeing what they were doing, but you can’t afford to do that in this competition.
“You need to go out and throw everything at them and I think we did that in the second half. Cockers said it (at half-time) and got it out of us.”
The same kind of slow start had cost them in the first game at Montpellier, their only loss in the pool so far, he pointed out.
“We had opportunities to win the game there,” he added. “I think we just need to wrap our heads around having the same mentality straight from the kick-off.
“The best teams in the world do that, start well and keep the pressure on, blow the opposition off the park.
“We’re still learning in this competition. We’ve put ourselves in a really good position to go through but we haven’t qualified for anything yet. We need to keep pushing on, playing well and hopefully get another result.”
Bringing their European form back to the PRO14 and another doubleheader, the first two legs of the 1872 Cup against Glasgow, is now the focus, not the Toulon game in the New Year, added Toolis.
“It’s been good to get the confidence and momentum going,” he said. “Glasgow had a few good results, beating Lyon back-to-back, playing well in tough conditions on Saturday.
“It was important for us to our wins and get the confidence up again. This was our first win away from home for a while, although a lot of those losses have been close ones.
“We’ve been back together as a team for the first time in a while after the autumn tests the past couple of weeks, and we have a bit of cohesion together again. We focus on Glasgow now and it’s going to be a tough couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile Glasgow have secured centre Sam Johnson for a further two years on a contract extension, the first of seven new deals to be announced in the week before Christmas.
The Australian-born 25-year-old was included in Gregor Townsend’s Autumn Test squad last month for the first time but had to withdraw because of injury. He was the Warriors’ Players’ Player of the Year last season.
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “I’ve been really impressed with Sam in my time with the club. He’s made some real shifts and his work ethic and determination to improve really epitomises what a good man he is.
“On the pitch he’s excellent both sides of the ball, is a really good communicator and has been at the heart of some of our best performances this last couple of years. We’re delighted that he’s sticking around.”