Southwell ready for battle with Paterson

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The Independent Online

Hugo Southwell is looking forward to going head-to-head in a selection battle with Scotland’s record points scorer Chris Paterson at both club and international level next season.

With Paterson back playing for Edinburgh after a short sabbatical in Gloucester last season, Southwell knows he is going to have to be at the top of his game if he is to retain his place in the team - let alone add to his 42 caps in an international career stretching back to 2004.

Paterson has previously played on the wing so both players can be accommodated in the side but increased competition for places out wide makes it likely the two will have to battle it out for the number 15 shirt.

“I just see it as the sort of challenge you have to face head-on if you want to play rugby at the top level,” said Southwell.

“Yes, it is going to be tough on both of us, but it is an exciting challenge - and it can only help Edinburgh and Scotland to have Chris back up here playing well.

“I’m pretty confident that if I am playing at the best of my ability I will get in the team. You have to have that sort of self belief.”

While Edinburgh were one of the surprise packages of last season, finishing fourth in the Magners League and defeating both Leicester and Leinster in the Heineken Cup, things did not go quite so well at international level.

But Southwell is upbeat about Scotland’s prospects for the upcoming autumn international series - when New Zealand, South Africa and Canada will provide the opposition.

“Last season was tough, but there was a few highlights - like winning the Calcutta Cup in February and then winning in Argentina during the summer,” he said.

“So we have shown that we have potential and now we have to work on playing to the high levels we have set ourselves on a consistent basis.

“We have to make sure that when we play New Zealand in four months’ time we don’t slip back to the level which has dogged us for most of the year.

“We have to make sure that we play in all three autumn internationals like we did in the second Test in Argentina.

“New Zealand and South Africa have been the best two teams in the world for a long time now.

“I think most neutrals would still regard them as the benchmark against which everyone else measures themselves.

“These two games will be chances for us to test ourselves at the highest level, and it is a magnificent opportunity for us to really see where we are in the grand scheme of things.”