WP NEL is set to complete a decade as an Edinburgh player next year after signing an extension to his current contract, which had been due to expire in the summer. The length of the new agreement has not been specified, but as the Scotland tighthead joined from the Cheetahs in 2012, even just another season will ensure he completes his ten years.
“WP is a club legend and we’re delighted he’ll pull on the jersey for his tenth season at Edinburgh Rugby,” head coach Richard Cockerill said. “He continues to be a pivotal member of the squad and you only had to see his performance at Parc y Scarlets earlier this season, or from the bench against Wales on Saturday, to see that he’s still a special player.
“WP has played a lot of games for this club and his contributions throughout a near-decade of rugby in Edinburgh should be recognised and celebrated. He is and will continue to be a real role model for the next generation of Edinburgh Rugby props.”
Nel said recently that he planned to move into coaching once his playing days were over, and yesterday he hinted that he would get involved more in that side of the game while remaining as a registered player. “Coaching is something I would like to explore further in this next two years,” he said.
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“I already like to work with the younger players at the club. I feel like I can help them improve as players and hopefully I can help them go and represent Scotland. We have a lot of exciting young forwards at the club and there are exciting times ahead with our new stadium.
“Edinburgh is such a special place and club for me,” he continued. “My family and I are well settled in this beautiful city we now call home.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I would still be here after all these years and still playing at 34. But I can’t complain about the way I’m playing at the moment. It’s still a huge honour to be selected for both Edinburgh and Scotland. To reach 150 games for the club earlier this season was really special for me.”
Edinburgh will name their team at lunchtime today[Fri] for tomorrow night’s home match against Munster, and the line-up is sure to include Damien Hoyland. The full-back has been out of competitive action since injuring ankle ligaments while training with Scotland in the autumn, and his comeback has been delayed as his team have seen match after match called off in the Champions Cup and PRO14 alike. Now, though, having taken part in the recent training match with Glasgow, the 27-year-old is ready to return.
“It looks like I’m going to get a run-out this weekend, which is good,” Hoyland said. “And I have to try to grab that opportunity with both hands.
“It’s been a long few months, but I’m back training. I’ve had a bit of a run-around in the Glasgow A game, my ankle feels great, and the rest of my body for once feels pretty good too. I’ve just been trying to remember what it’s like to play rugby these last few weeks.”
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A first game back after injury can be an anxious team for athletes, and Hoyland is one of those who feels nervous before every game. He insisted, though, that fear will not be one of his pre-match emotions as he prepares for the game against the Conference B leaders.
“Nerves are always there and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. It’s one of the craziest things. Five minutes before any game the nerves I get are pretty crazy. It’s been that way since I started playing rugby, so I don’t think anything will change that.
“But there’s a difference between being nervous and scared. And I’m never scared going into a game. I’ve trained enough and played well enough to feel confident going into any match now – and the feeling when the nerves go is one of the best feelings ever.”