Press Pass with Ben Toolis

Press Pass with Ben Toolis

Get the latest from Scotland international lock Ben Toolis as he spoke with press in the build up to Sunday's trip to Parc y Scarlets.

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On making his return from injury against Scarlets

“Yeah it was great to be back on the pitch. I've been out for five months. I was initially told that it was only going to be a four- to six-week injury to my toe, but it was much longer than that.

“From that point of view it was extremely frustrating - when you’re told it’s quite a short turnaround, then it turns into 16 weeks. That’s life, unfortunately; it happens.

“But it was good to be back out there. Good weather as well, so throwing the ball about. Yeah, I really enjoyed it.

"I’ve been pretty good with injuries, but this season has been pretty bad. You’re going to have a season like that with an injury here and there.

“Yeah, it’s been my longest spell, I’d say. Usually three months is what I’ve had. But nothing too serious, so I’ll take it.”

On the rehab period allowing him to take a mental break

“Yeah. I’ve played a bit of footy over the last few years. Injuries are always frustrating, but at the same time you try and take the positives out of it, try and get a bit of a mental break.

"It’s different in its own way: the rehab, you’re in every day, different types of training. It can be nice to get a bit of a break from it.

“But as soon as you’re back you’re keen for it again, which is definitely the case for me. So that’s a positive.

“It was quite important for me to try and get a game or two in before the end of the season, just to go into the off-season as an uninjured player.

"You might have been fit, but you still didn’t tick that box of playing and being fully fit. Just to get that confidence, specially with my toe, that it feels pretty good.”

On watching from the sidelines

“It’s been a frustrating season. Covid has interrupted it, but at the same time other teams have coped with it well and done well, so I don’t want to make excuses for it.

“There were a lot of games we fell on the wrong side, a lot of games we lost within three, five points, so the season could have been completely different in terms of where we finished in the table.

“It has been frustrating, but we’ve shown glimpses of the way we can play. Specially over the last season or two we’ve shown we can compete with the best, it’s just keeping that consistency there.

"That’s what we’re going to aim to do next season. Hopefully we can get the fans back into the new stadium, which will be a great experience for us and for them. Something new which will motivate us.

“At the moment it’s frustrating but it’s been good at the same time. We’ve had young guys coming in and getting an opportunity to show what they’re about. It’s all been really positive for Edinburgh Rugby in the future.”

On taking a break this summer

“I’m obviously not doing the tour, so a bit of down time and then try to get a full pre-season into me.

"I haven’t had a pre-season for five years so it won’t be the worst thing considering I’ve been out for so long. It’s something I need so I’ll try to use it to my advantage.

“I spoke to Gregor [Townsend] and I caught up with Mike [Blair] last week at training. They were quite keen to include me in some shape or form but, considering I’d been injured, we all decided just to leave it and get a pre-season in.

"Hopefully, everything will go well and it’ll put me in a good position for the autumn. We’ll wait and see but at this stage it’s more about getting back playing for Edinburgh.”

On getting back in the mix for Scotland

“There are so many options at second row now and the way Gregor likes to play the game, it comes down to fine margins, I guess, as to what he prefers and what best suits his style of play.

“If you look at all those second rows they all offer something different. Everyone has improvements to make in their own game so it’s just about trying to keep doing the things you’re good at and trying to improve the area you need to fix, like a bit of ball carry, a bit of skill work.

"There’s nothing that I’m desperately needing to improve on, probably just need to sharpen up on a few things.

“When you’re out for a while you get a bit of a mental break because rugby can be quite draining on the mind so it can be good to have a bit of a step away from it to refresh, recoup and be keen to go again.

On stepping up as a leader with Edinburgh

"All the experience guys take a bit of charge. It is open for the younger boys to come in but, at the same time, the younger boys are more stressed because its an opportunity to play and put a good foot forward, make an impression.

"I know when I was first involved and had a few games, I was a bit stressed about how I would play, so for the young guys coming in, it is important to take charge and try to be a bit more of a leader.

"At the same time you wan to be a bit more relaxed and calm and make those other boys relaxed. At the end of the day I feel if you are ore relaxed, you will play at your best. It is a fine balance."

On his own leadership

"I am naturally quite introverted, quite chilled out. Then there is a time and place where you need to have a voice and be a leader in certain areas.

You have your leaders in the team, the defensive leaders, the attack leaders. You need to understand that you need to step up, try to make an impact and share your experience and knowledge.

"That is extremely important, you see the best players in the world do that. When I started to play, you see the older guys and learn from them, so it is important to be a leader and pass on to the younger lads,

On summer plans

"I haven't been home to Australia since 2018, three years. It is extremely tough. I last saw my family just before the World Cup, two years now, and I am not going to get home this year because of Covid restrictions.

"It is tough, another hurdle foreigners have to cope with – not being able to see family. It is extremely tough., You just have to adapt, try to stay positive and make the best of the situation.

"I will try to get away sometime for the weekend, I will mainly be hanging around here in Edinburgh, my missus is working through the week so we can't really do anything then.

"I do like the Highlands, I like to go for a drive and there is some beautiful scenery up there. I like the country so that is something I will be looking forward to doing."

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