Lewis Carmichael believes Edinburgh’s strength in depth is ‘the best ever’

Lock is sure he is getting back to his own best form after putting injuries behind him

Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael.
Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson.

LEWIS CARMICHAEL believes there is no point in thinking any more about a first team and a second team at Edinburgh, and that recent results have proven the squad is stronger than ever. 

Clearly, some of those who are away on Scotland duty this weekend would normally be contending for a place in Richard Cockerill‘s squad. But when a pack includes the likes of Pierre Schoeman in the front-row, Bill Mata at No 8 and Carmichael himself in the middle – as Edinburgh’s is likely to do at home to Connacht on Friday night – you can ee where the lock forward is coming from.

“You look at the talent that’s in our squad, it’s ridiculous,” Carmichael said. “It’s good. Guys get opportunities that they might not get during the normal season. It is great for us, great for training: we have a lot of confidence for these games coming up. 

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“When you get basically a full forward pack going away [on Test duty], it’s good having that confidence that you’ve got such good strength in depth and players that you know it’s almost as though you’re just rotating.

“It’s not like they’re the first string or you’re the second string. It’s almost like you’re just constantly rotating. It’s very good to have that strength in depth – it’s the best it has ever been at the club. 

“Cockers has just been doing that well since he’s come in – he’s been building that depth in all positions, I don’t think we are weak in any position. We’ve got great depth, so that’s good.

“It’s great for guys like myself,” the 24-year-old continued. “Gilko [Grant Gilchrist] played for us last week, and it’s obviously great to play with these guys as well. It’s good for me to get  game time and it’s just good for other boys coming through as well, it only strengthens the overall squad. These guys get opportunities during the Six Nations which they might not get outside the Six Nations. It’s only a positive for us.” 

Carmichael’s steadily improving form has been another positive for Cockerill’s squad this season. After making a try-scoring Scotland debut against Canada on the 2018 summer tour he was sidelined by injury for much of the following year, but he is now confident that he is getting back to the top form that won him international recognition.

“Getting there with each game. I never like to think that I’m the finished product yet, but each game I feel like I’m getting more into my rhythm. I don’t think I’m really quite just there yet but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I thought I was not too bad at the weekend.” 

The result was not bad either, as Edinburgh beat Scarlets in extremely difficult conditions to go back to the top of Conference B. Connacht are next up on Friday night, aand then Cardiff Blues, which means three games in a row against teams from the same conference. Win all three and Edinburgh will have come significantly closer to clinching a play-off spot, even though they are trying not to look so far ahead.

“We go week by week – we don’t really think about it,” Carmichael added. “Obviously the boys know that if we finish first, it’s so much easier a draw –  a home semi-final. It’s not really talked about.

“I don’t think Connacht will miss that many boys – maybe Bundee Aki, maybe one or two others.  I fully back the strength the depth that we’ve got in the squad to put a performance in. We’re not really too worried about them:  obviously we’ve looked at them already and we know what they’re about, but we fully back ourselves to do a job.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1428 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.