Scotland back row forward David Denton admits his experiences for Edinburgh in Europe this season convinced him he was ready to make the step-up to international rugby.
The 21-year-old has been a key part of Michael Bradley’s side that have stuttered to ninth in the RaboDirect PRO12 table but have made the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, their best-ever run.
And the Zimbabwe-born Denton, who narrowly missed out on a place in Andy Robinson’s World Cup squad last autumn, insists he is now ready to take on the world’s best when the Six Nations get underway.
“Playing this season against Europe’s best has been good because they are a lot bigger, although I wouldn’t necessarily say they are more physical,” Denton, who has split his time between No.8 and blindside flanker this season, told the Scotsman.
“It was good to test myself against guys like Sam Warburton and Sebastien Chabal. That’s how I found out that I was ready to play at that level against players of that stature.
“I’m fortunate that I have had a bit of luck, but having said that, I have grasped it – I’ve played well whenever I have been given the opportunity.
“I’m definitely looking at myself as an eight and a six. I’m very comfortable playing both. Obviously at eight there is added pressure because there are different things I need to keep control of, I have a more vital role at the scrum – but I am comfortable with that. I feel like I could do it well.”
Denton’s solitary Scottish cap thus far came last August in a World Cup warm-up game against Ireland.
But with the 21-year-old likely to feature at some stage against England on Saturday, the back-rower is confident that he is a much improved player compared to when he made his debut.
“At the start of the World Cup I wasn’t as fit as I should have been,” he admitted.
“I was carrying a lot more weight than I was used to, having bulked up a lot during my first year as a professional, but now I am used to that.
“My handling skills have also improved, and your confidence grows as you play more games. Andy (Robinson) said that the World Cup came a month too early for me, which was true, but I feel I am in a very good position now.”