Denton | It's good to be back

Scotland back-row David Denton made a timely return to international rugby last weekend, making a big impact off the bench against France after a lengthy absence from the national team.

The 28-year-old hadn’t played for his country since Scotland’s 2016 summer tour in Japan, before after a hamstring injury kept him out for a number of months, but he is now relishing his opportunity to be back in the squad for this 2018 NatWest 6 Nations campaign.

Speaking from the national team training base at Oriam, he said: “It’s an awesome feeling to be back in the Scotland squad.

“After being away for so long, getting to go back out there, especially with my first game back being at BT Murrayfield, it was all the more special.

“When you’re playing you are focused on what is right in front of you and for me, moving from injury to injury was pretty frustrating.

“I would obviously be rather out on the field playing. I want to be playing for Scotland but the first thing you actually want to do is just be playing rugby, so for me not being able to play for about nine months, it was very frustrating.

“I am just delighted to be back on the field.

“Watching Scotland instead of playing, you do start to question whether you’ll get that opportunity again but you need to keep your head down and work hard.”

With Denton coming into a new coaching set-up under Head Coach Gregor Townsend, there has been some noticeable changes since he last pulled on a dark blue jersey.

He said: “The team that played last weekend isn’t too dissimilar but the squad is. When I came back there was a lot of guys I had never met before, a lot of younger players that have been coming through the ranks and been playing really well, that I have only seen on TV but never actually met.

“In terms of the coaches, they have changed a lot but picked up some things where Vern [Cotter] left off. There weren’t any huge surprises but there were subtle differences that have made us better since.”

Earning his 36th cap against France in Round 2 of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, Denton is now one of the more experienced players in the Scotland squad, however he doesn’t see himself as a leader quite yet.

“Coming in as a 28-year-old, it is a weird thing for me. I’m more used to being the young guy in the squad and I’m not anymore.

“My main focus for the time being is on my time on the pitch. I don’t concern myself too much trying to influence others’ performances or potentially be a leader. I need to sort myself out before I sort others’ stuff.”

Looking ahead to this Saturday’s (24 February) match against England (kick-off 4.45pm, live on BBC) Denton knows the team will have to up their game at BT Murrayfield.

“To compete and beat the second-best team in the world we know we have to lift it up a gear.

“England were very good against Italy and showed they have some incredible players across the field and I think we all know that after watching them over the last 12 months.

“They are a force to be reckoned with and we are going to have to be at our best.”