When he started for Scotland in their World Cup warm-up match against Italy two years ago Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s career looked set to go from strength to strength, but his progress can at best be described as having been interrupted since.

Having established himself as the club’s first choice scrum-half in the season before the World Cup his absence from the club during that tournament allowed rivals Sean Kennedy and Nathan Fowles to promote their cases for selection at a time of uncertainty behind the scenes at the club, all of which may or may not have contributed to the way in which responsibilities have been shared out since.

Hidalgo-Clyne’s stock remained sufficiently high that when Greig Laidlaw received a call to join the British & Irish Lions last summer, he was initially chosen to accompany Glasgow Warriors Henry Pyrgos and Ali Price on Scotland’s tour to Fiji and Australia before a hamstring injury forced him to drop out, once again offering Kennedy an opportunity. However both were given a reminder of how tough competition for places has become when Scotland coach Gregor Townsend held a pre-season national squad gathering.

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“Even though I was involved in the summer tour I wasn’t picked for the camp recently in St Andrews, so for me it’s about working hard and whether or not they want Greig to keep playing I don’t know,” said Hidalgo-Clyne. “They probably do and he’s not said he’s retiring or anything, so for me I’m just working hard. I know Gregor’s coming down to watch my games, so I’ve got to play well enough that he can’t not pick me and I’ve got to be doing something better than the other scrum-halves over in Glasgow.

It is telling that Hidalgo-Clyne’s solitary Test start is also his only experience of having been on a winning side in nine appearances, underlining the benefit of the apparent change of tone in terms of emphasis on winning matches that is being driven by Richard Cockerill, his new coach at Edinburgh and Dave Rennie at Glasgow Warriors. That was brought home last weekend when Cockerill praised his players for managing a bonus point win over the Dragons after starting badly, but also made it clear that he expects much better from them.

“Last year we’d probably have taken that and been happy with that,” acknowledged Hidalgo-Clyne who has started both matches. “Two from two and nine out of 10 points is not a bad start at all and our confidence is benefiting. Our conference is obviously very difficult with two teams already having 10 points and two with nine points, but us as players we’re setting new standards and driving this culture, so it’s great we’re winning these games, but we still have to be more clinical because when you play the likes of Leinster and the Scarlets and the top teams in the top four we need to put these teams away.”

• Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was speaking at the launch of Mitsubishi Motors new Kit 4 Clubs scheme, offering rugby clubs and schools access to kit and equipment. For more information visit: www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/rugby/scotland/