Townsend On Merchiston Magician

ImageEdinburgh coach Gregor Townsend praised the performance of Phil Godman after the skilful stand-off helped Scotland to a memorable win in Argentina on Saturday and tipped the player to carry on improving.

After a 18 month absence from the international scene, Godman started in the number 10 jersey in Buenos Aires and orchestrated some thrilling backs moves which led to an exciting win for Scotland.

As a result, former Scotland playmaker Townsend, who specializes as a stand-off coach and who works with Godman on a weekly basis, believes the former Merchiston Castle student is at the zenith of his playing powers.

Townsend said: "I think it was a reflection on how Phil has been playing for Edinburgh. He was confident and comfortable at international level, even though it had almost been a year-and-a-half since he had last played for Scotland.

Phil is in for next season and you can join Scotland's stand-off in a winning team by signing up for a 2008/2009 Edinburgh Rugby Club season ticket. Call 0131 346 5180 for more details about reserving your place at The Castle for all nine home matches in the Magners League plus the three home Pool games in the Heineken Cup.

"He is a much better player now than he was then. He has really worked hard on his game, he has been a threat all year and the key thing about his game is the way he brings other players into the match.

'there are always bits of a stand-off's game that you want to improve and I"m sure Phil will look at a couple of areas where he would like to get better.

"But the way he attacked the ball was excellent for the team and really set the platform up where Scotland were able to take the game to Argentina."

After Godman turned 26 last month, Townsend says the former Newcastle man will keep on getting better during the 2008/2009 season; largely because of the likes of David Blair breathing down his neck.

He added: "I would like to think the best is yet to come for Phil. Playing stand-off is a position where experience really helps. If he keeps on wanting to improve then he can always get better. He will be under pressure at Edinburgh next season.

"With Chris (Paterson) coming back and with David Blair having accumulated a lot of valuable experience while on the A Tour then Phil will need to play well.

"I think that is one of the reasons why he managed to play so well last season was because David had played ahead of him. He must know the work he has put in has shown in matches because he has been very consistent over the past six months."

In terms of identifying his chief attributes, Townsend believes Godman is one of the best in the business when it comes to his distribution.

He said: "His distribution is excellent " it is up there with the best three first receivers in the game. The way he always tries to put something on the ball in order to set up the move for a team-mate is first class.

"He really goes at defenders, he makes them think and puts them under pressure.

"Having the ability to move the ball is the way forward and the new rules that are set to come in will make that happen as well. Phil's game suits that because that is his main strength."