Kevin Bryce: Scotland recall 'ultimate goal' for Edinburgh prop convert

Kevin Bryce in action for Edinburgh against Leinster
Bryce came on for his Edinburgh debut for the final 15 minutes against Leinster

Edinburgh prop Kevin Bryce says a Scotland recall is his ultimate goal as he takes further 'baby steps' in his conversion from hooker to tight-head.

The 28-year-old, who started his career as a flanker, made his debut for the capital side as a replacement in last Friday's Pro12 defeat by Leinster.

Bryce says getting advice from Scotland first-choice WP Nel is "invaluable".

But he hopes to re-join him in the national set-up, having won the last of three caps at the 2015 World Cup.

"The end outcome for any player including myself is to get back in the Scotland set-up, but right now my main focus is Edinburgh," said Bryce, who made the move along the M8 from Scottish rivals Glasgow this summer.

"If I take the 15, 20, 30 minutes, or halves of rugby - whatever I get - then if WP is away with Scotland and I am the one who is fortunate enough to start behind him, I will take that and just keep building.

"It was baby steps to start with, just getting a feel for it, taking feedback from players and coaches.

"It has been a tough challenge but I am just starting to find my own feet. WP is WP but I am Kevin Bryce and I have to find a way that suits myself."

After only a dozen Pro12 outings - including just three starts - in his three seasons at Glasgow, it is not surprising "more game time" was Bryce's main motivation in choosing to leave the habitual title contenders.

Kevin Bryce carries the ball for Glasgow against Connacht last season
Bryce was a hard-carrying hooker but his chances were limited at Glasgow

Nel may be the obvious obstacle to a regular starting spot with Edinburgh, but the persuasive words of head coach Alan Solomons and forwards coach Stevie Scott have convinced the 6ft 1in, 18st 13lb front-rower his switch to tight-head will pay off in the long run.

"I never got a lot of breaks at Glasgow, albeit I was injured quite a lot," Bryce added.

"I got my chance to make my debut on Friday night and I was quite happy with that.

"'Solly' and Stevie have big belief in me at tight-head and say I am going to do well, so I am buying into what they say and what we do as a team, and hopefully I will figure more.

"With guys like WP and Simon Berghan and Nick Beavon and myself, we have got four tight-heads who can play, and they are all bloody good.

WP Nel in action for Edinburgh in their recent win over Scarlets
WP Nel is first-choice for Edinburgh and Scotland, and a strong contender for the British & Irish Lions

"WP is starting week in, week out for Edinburgh, he is starting for the national team and he is a guy who can play 80 minutes as well if he has to.

"Learning off him is invaluable, it is priceless. He has been really good to me.

"I feel like I am getting to grips with it now after missing the bulk of pre-season.

"You have your good days and bad days. You get your head shoved up your arse one day and the next day you are back on top of the loose-head.

"It is a massive learning curve. I knew it was never going to be easy from the word go. I always knew there would be dark days. You just need to learn to shelve them and get on with it. That experience is what you learn from."

His education will continue apace on Saturday with a visit to Limerick's Thomond Park to tackle Munster, who have won two of their first three Pro12 games.

"They are going to be tough opposition and have a strong scrum, but we need to focus on what we can do as a tight five and dominate them," he added.

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