EDINBURGH have excelled this season under head coach Mike Blair, with a solitary defeat and a single draw being the only blemishes on a winning record. And according to Nick Haining, the good news for the capital club’s supporters – and the bad news for their opponents – is that they have yet to reach their peak.
Five wins from seven games have taken Edinburgh up to second in the URC table – three places and seven points clear of Glasgow, who they play for the first time this season at Scotstoun on Monday. Back-row forward Haining expects a demanding match, as ever, but he insists that his team are going into the game in a confident frame of mind.
“Yeah, really confident,” the Scotland international said. “Results have gone really well for us over the last couple of months and we’ve been getting a bit of momentum with the way we’re playing. But we’re still not at our best – which is the really promising thing for us.
“We know it’s going to be a tough clash with Glasgow coming off a good win against Exeter last week, so it will be a big occasion, but we’re primed and ready.”
The arrival of Blair in the close season has given the Edinburgh players a latitude to express themselves that was lacking under previous coach Richard Cockerill. And, while insisting that Cockerill’s work ethic remains a vital ingredient of the team’s make-up, Haining believes that the freedom handed to them by Blair has been crucial to their success so far this season.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. Mike has come in and obviously wanted to keep a lot of the values we had previously with Cockers – the way we work hard and so on – but he’s also brought a level of enjoyment to the way we play, and encouraged us to celebrate the way we play.
“He’s set our standards really high. As a collective we really enjoy the fact we can put our hands up and challenge him – he’s quite happy to be challenged – so we talk amongst each other and say if something isn’t working then we are not going to keep it, because we are the ones out there on the pitch.
“So he gives us that guidance, but we pretty much have the final say with it. It’s just a really good collective way of thinking and playing.”