After his years spent playing under the captaincies of Dean Richards and Martin Johnson, it is hardly surprising that Richard Cockerill is looking for the larger physical specimens in his squad to impose themselves  – and Ben Toolis seems eager to respond accordingly.

Reared in Australia, the hirsute 6ft 7in, 18-stone-plus lock forward is now an established member of the Scotland squad and appears to have become ever more influential there and at club level, a process Edinburgh’s head coach Cockerill has been keen to encourage.

“At the start of the season I spoke to Cockers and I have spoken to him a few times and he wants me to take more of a leadership role and develop myself as one of the main players in the pack and a lineout leader,” said Toolis. 

Loading article content

“That is good for me because I enjoy trying to develop more of a talking role in the team. You can only benefit from adding bits to your game. I ran the lineout in the Autumn Tests and then back here at Edinburgh and you can always improve so it is quite important, it builds confidence up. It develops you as a player and as a person.”

That can only enhance his prospects of involvement in the forthcoming Six Nations Championship, which gets underway in just three weeks’ time, but Edinburgh have vital matches to play before that and Toolis is ready to play his part, indicating that he believes he does not have to be rested under the protocols which affect international players, but admitting that he has not checked, saying: “I just play until I’m told to chill out [but] I am keen to play both games.”

He knows, however, that it is in everyone’s interests in both the short and medium term to get a job done against Stade Francais at Murrayfield tomorrow that would guarantee 

Edinburgh a home quarter-final in the European Challenge Cup.

“If we get the win in the first game then maybe the coaches will rotate things and Lewis Carmichael and Callum Hunter-Hill may get a chance which would be good ahead of the Six Nations when they may be needed even more,” Toolis pointed out.

Part of a pack that has come under pressure because of the number of international front-row forwards that are missing, he noted that there is increasing belief in the abilities of the club’s youngsters. 

“With guys missing, people might see that our scrum is under pressure and Stade have a lot of big men, but so did the Kings last weekend and we dealt with that well,” he noted. 

“We work hard on our scrum and the boys have been doing really well in training and we believe in the props we have, so we know they will step up against Stade.”