Neither will start tomorrow’s 1872 Cup first leg match with Glasgow at BT Murrayfield, but Edinburgh Rugby got a huge festive lift when two key men on their huge re-signing list agreed new terms.
Prop Alasdair Dickinson, the 32-year-old “squadfather” and enjoying the best form of his life with both the capital club and Scotland, has pledged himself to Edinburgh for probably the rest of his career by agreeing a three-year extension to his current contract.
Meanwhile Ben Toolis, who could make a long-awaited comeback tomorrow off the bench just in time to launch a bid to be involved in the Scotland Six Nations reckoning, has signed for a further two years.
These are just two of the 32 out of contract at the end of the season but with head coach Alan Solomons staying on and youngster Jamie Ritchie agreeing new terms a week ago, Edinburgh fans can expect presents to be coming through the New Year period.
For Dickinson, who played his 100th game for Edinburgh last month but will miss tomorrow;s derby with a calf injury, it was a simple decision to make.
“Edinburgh was my first professional club, I feel at home here and I really believe in Alan, Stevie, Hodgey, Pete and the great coaching set-up we’ve got; everything’s pretty positive,” said the player who started his career in his home town with Dundee HSFP.
Dickinson played with Gloucester and Sale in England between 2007 and 2013, but returned to Edinburgh two years ago with his career at something of a crossroads after long-term injuries.
But once fit, and allied to his superior conditioning, he has blossomed again back home, becoming one of Europe’s premier loosehead props in both setpiece and loose for both his club and for Scotland, where he and clubmates Ross Ford and WP Nel are now fixtures for Vern Cotter.
“It’s been great being able to work with Fordy and WP for the last few seasons maybe us three in the front row are like fine wines, improving with age!” he added.
“We work together really well and there are good youngsters coming through which challenges us to keep improving.”
In addition, Dickinson has relished the developmental aspect of his return to Murrayfield.
“Two years ago I thought the time was right for me to come back and share my experiences with the players here to help push Edinburgh forward,” he continued. “We’re not exactly where we want to be yet but I want to help Scottish Rugby and help some of the youngsters coming through.
“Our run in the Challenge Cup last year was pretty good and we’ve had some remarkable wins. We have a great group of lads who work hard and are pretty humble.”
Toolis has been out with an elbow injury after just missing out on Rugby World Cup selection and has come on leaps and bounds since signing on the Elite Development programme with his twin brother Alex, who has been starting regularly in his absence from the Edinburgh second row.
The Brisbane-born lock, still just 23, qualifies for Scotland via his mother born in Carluke and has been surprised by his own speedy advance.
““Coming over here from Australia it was a completely different environment so finding my feet here, getting game time, being able to take my opportunity and playing with the boys day in day out has been something special,” he said.
“I’m happy to be back on the bench this week and hopefully get good game time and kick on from there.
“Everyone realises how important the big derby game is to the supporters you can see the emotion and passion from everyone going into this match, especially starting off at BT Murrayfield on Sunday in front of a record crowd.”
Head coach Solomons described the re-signings as “fantastic news for the club”.
“Dicko is a world class loosehead prop, who makes an invaluable contribution both on and off the field,” he said. “He is a quality individual, great team man and an excellent role model for our young players.
“Ben has made huge strides with his rugby over the past year, becoming a regular for the club and being capped by Scotland.
“I am delighted that he has elected to continue his progress with the club and have no doubt that he will be a major contributor in the years to come. He is a terrific bloke and I am pleased that we will continue working together.”