Jamie Hodgson feels he is ready to make his mark in the Edinburgh team after seizing his opportunity to step up a level.
The 22-year-old lock was called up from the Scottish Rugby Academy to train with Richard Cockerill’s side in the summer of 2018 because they were short of second-row forwards for training.
He impressed enough to be offered a deal and is currently on a partnership contract from Watsonians.
Hodgson got a run in the team while Cockerill was without up to 23 players during the autumn internationals but he has established himself enough to start in the recent European win over Sale.
Ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 derby against Glasgow, Hodgson said: “I’m a late developer who has worked hard and I’ve still got lots of ways to improve.
“When I first got a crack due to injuries I was probably the last one standing and was about 100 kilos dripping wet. I was just trying to fill a jersey and do a job.
“With the run of games now there’s a lot more confidence. I want to make my mark on the pitch now rather than just fill a position on the team sheet.
“I feel I’m improving as well and finding my feet. The Sale game was a big step up and a big challenge to play one of the top teams in the Premiership with a lot of physical guys, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I’ve always been a good rugby player and had the skills, and moving from under-20s into the pro environment it’s just that physical ability.
“I was 100 kilos coming out of the under-20s and worked extremely hard with the strength and conditioning guys here.
“I’ve a lot to thank them for, just to put on some size and fill out a bit has had a massive impact.”
Hodgson is looking forward to testing himself against some familiar faces at BT Murrayfield.
“It’s an exciting one,” he said. “Everyone knows everyone, especially the Scotland guys, but I know guys from the 20s and guys I even played against at school.
“It’s always exciting to play your rivals and guys you’ve grown up with. The level of detail you go into, the set-piece and stuff, that goes up because you all know each other so well.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now