Scottish Daily Mail
Six Nations is the time to shine for reborn Bradbury
EDINBURGH back row Magnus Bradbury has had a chequered career for club and country — but the time is right for him to step out of the shadows and fulfil his true potential.
He’s certainly playing well enough for Gregor Townsend to seriously consider fielding him in the Six Nations opener against England at BT Murrayfield on February 5.
An all-Edinburgh back row of Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie on the flanks, with Bradbury at eight, could do some real damage in the Calcutta Cup clash.
Bradbury has never quite been able to get a decent run for the Scots, yet that could be about to change as we see him in the form of his life for the capital side.
He was named Edinburgh’s Player of the Month for December and has kept that consistency going into the new year. Man of the match in the 34-10 win over Cardiff on Saturday, his turnover on the halfway line after five minutes led to the first of five tries for Mike Blair’s side.
He was superb in both attack and defence and is producing the kind of rugby that fully merits international recognition.
Bradbury last played for Scotland when he came off the bench in the Six Nations home win over France last March.
Since then, a mixture of injuries and the emergence of other players has restricted his chances.
Matt Fagerson, Josh Bayliss and Nick Haining have been battling it out for the starting Scotland No8 jersey but the man from Oban is trumping them all at the moment.
He’s matured greatly from the dark days of four years ago when, as a 22-year-old, he was suspended for two games and stripped of the Edinburgh captaincy after just two months in the role.
That followed an ill-fated night out in the capital when he fell and bumped his head on the pavement so severely that an ambulance had to be called.
Given a very public dressing down by then Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill, he took the criticism on the chin and has never stepped out of line since.
Now he has turned into the player everybody thought he could be when he made his international debut against Argentina in November, 2016. There is a real hunger, intensity and freedom about the way Bradbury is playing — and that is being encouraged by new boss Blair.
Under Cockerill, the forwards were not encouraged to break from the pre-arranged game plan and their play was very one-dimensional. After a kick to the corner, their orders were to rumble forward to the line. Effective, yet, but deadly dull to watch.
With Blair in charge, the back-row players are being urged to spend more time with ball in hand and to express themselves.
This attacking system, which is also favoured by national coach Townsend, is right up Bradbury’s street and he’s been making some hard yards for his team.
Bradbury is as close to a physical, ball-playing No 8 that Scotland have had since Josh Strauss. The Six Nations is his time to shine.