De Luca ups his defence
Scotland centre says defence has improved ahead of Six Nations opener.
Last Updated: 29/01/08 10:12am
De Luca: Defence
Scotland centre Nick De Luca is ready to show his defensive improvement if he is given the nod to start against France at Murrayfield on Saturday.
De Luca will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday and the day after he is hoping to be starting in the Six Nations opener against the French.
The lively centre has already shown good attacking instincts, but he says he is keen to show coach Frank Hadden his defensive work has improved as well.
"I would say my defensive game has been the big improvement I have made in the last year," he said.
"Attacking is more natural and instinctive, but I have had to work a lot harder my defence so as to get used to the systems and perhaps become a little bit less individualistic."
De Luca says that his improving defensive skills have come from a strong bond in his club side Edinburgh.
"The team you are playing in has a lot to do with it," he said.
"There is only so much you can do on your own. But John Houston, inside me - and Simon Webster, Andy Turnbull and Ben Cairns outside me - have been operating very well defensively. We have shut a lot of teams out this year.
"The main thing has been the attitude among the boys - we don't want to concede any tries, ever.
"It's just a great work ethic throughout the team."
Edinburgh coach, former England chief Andy Robinson, has been praised by De Luca for helping him cut out the errors that had marred his game.
"Andy Robinson has been great," he added. "He is a really good coach - I don't think anyone has got a bad word to say against him.
"The small things that he picks out in my game - and has helped me tweak - have really made a difference.
"Frank (Hadden) has talked about my errors quite a lot, and 'Robbo' has really helped me pin-point exactly what is going wrong - and [Robinson's assistant] Rob Moffat has helped a lot there as well."
De Luca says an added boost of confidence has come with his displays for Edinburgh in tough Heineken Cup matches this season.
"I have been happy with my performance against the likes of Leinster, Leicester and Toulouse," said De Luca.
"They are big European teams with big-name players, so if you can show your worth against them then you go into other games in a pretty confident mood.
"There is always that slight concern that against Europe's best teams you might look out of place, but you soon learn that they are just rugby players as well."