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Atiga aims to bring on Edinburgh’s young guns

Guinness PRO12 Editor

30 Jun 2012

Ben Atiga insists he’s ready to juggle his on-field responsibilities of bolstering Edinburgh’s backline and his off-field role as a mentor for the RaboDirect PRO12 club’s young bucks.

Atiga, 29, arrived in the Scottish capital with a host of Super Rugby experience in his kit bag, which head coach Michael Bradley aims to make the most of.

The utility back made his Test debut for New Zealand against Tonga in 2003 but his international career never got off the ground and after four years with the Auckland Blues he took an extended break from the sport in 2008.

But after re-signing with the Blues in 2010 and then the Otago-based Highlanders outfit for the 2011 season he opted for a complete switch of continent and Edinburgh was calling.

Despite a sparkling Heineken Cup campaign which saw Atiga’s new team topple Toulouse in the quarter-finals, Edinburgh finished second from bottom in the league last season.

But Atiga believes that he can boost the Gunners’ domestic form whilst bringing a few youngsters under his wing.

“I’ve been thinking about it (next season) so much that I put pen to paper about what I want to do,” Atiga told edinburghrugby.org.

“I had a good talk with Michael Bradley while I was in New Zealand and he mentioned about the role he wants me to play and that’s to help bring the young guys through and I’m all go for that.

“When I took a break from rugby I came back and went straight into a leadership role and I really enjoyed that.

“I’ve met some of the guys here already and just their attitude is great. They are keen to work, keen learn and keen to make a name for themselves.

“The last season they had was very successful, from what I’ve heard, and that’s very encouraging and I think I am very fortunate to be a part of Scottish rugby at a very exciting time.”