Mark Bennett hopes he has repaid the faith shown in him by Edinburgh Rugby as he prepares to make his 100th appearance for the club.  

Bennett, who grew up in Cumnock and made his name at Glasgow Warriors, made the move east in the summer of 2017.  

The move to Edinburgh did not get off to a great start, with Bennett sidelined for much of his first year by a serious hamstring injury.  

The 31-year-old hopes he has repaid faith the club has shown in him during those difficult periods and is looking forward to joining some of his childhood heroes in Edinburgh’s centurion club.  

He said: “I grew up a west coaster and it was a big thing for me coming through east, but I’ve really made Edinburgh my home.  

“I love it through here. I love the way we try to play our rugby and I think you’ve seen some of my best rugby while I’ve been here.   

Scotland Rugby News: Mark Bennett says he's played some of his best rugby for EdinburghMark Bennett says he's played some of his best rugby for Edinburgh (Image: SNS)

"It’s a big milestone to get to 100 anywhere. When you think about some of the centurions there’s been here, I grew up watching Mossy [Chris Paterson], Ross Ford and Mike Blair on TV. 

“I’m just proud that I’ve given back the effort the club has given me. Especially the first few years, it wasn’t great for either of us. I barely bloody played so I’m just chuffed I can give back for that. " 

Bennett said his injury problems have taken a toll both physically and mentally.  

“As much as I try to pretend I’m tough, I’ve had a few rubbish injuries that have really set me back.  

“That first 18 months I was at Edinburgh, I think I was injured for 12 of them. Moving club, I wanted to come in and make an impact, but I was sat in the physio room for a year. It’s going to be moments like this that make times like those worthwhile."  

He also admits to finding it difficult to adjust to Richard Cockerill’s kick-first approach in his first couple of seasons in the capital.  

It was only when former team-mate Blair took over as head coach during the pandemic that Bennett says he felt like himself.  

“When Mike first came, in we started chucking the ball about a bit more, that was when I was me. That was when I found my feet again.  

Scotland Rugby News: Bennett said he felt back to his best after Mike Blair took over as Edinburgh head coachBennett said he felt back to his best after Mike Blair took over as Edinburgh head coach (Image: SNS)

“It is tough when you come in and I was being asked to play a style that didn’t particularly work for me. I’m not the biggest man and I was asked to be a straight up-and-down ball carrier. It just doesn’t work.  

“When Mike came in and we started to move the ball, that’s when I was like ‘right this is where I am meant to be’ and since then it’s just grown and grown.”  

Bennett was part of Glasgow’s academy when they ground-shared with Partick Thistle at Firhill before the club made its own home at Scotstoun.  

That Glasgow team, which featured the likes of Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, went on to win the Pro12 (as it was then known) in 2015, and Bennett sees similarities between Glasgow’s journey and the improvements that have been made at Edinburgh during his time.  

Bennett said: “It does feel similar with the move to Scotstoun, they built themselves a home and an identity and they’ve grown from there. I feel that we’ve been on that same journey and we’re in a good spot to kick on.   

“We’re playing a good brand of rugby, we’ve got a great home, a great atmosphere here – the atmosphere here is awesome and no matter how hard we tried when we played in Murrayfield, you’re not going to get the same atmosphere.” 

Bennett, who said Edinburgh’s new stadium was among the selling points pitched to him by then-CEO Jonny Petrie before he agreed to join the club, said the club has taken “massive steps forward” since he joined.   

"It’s our job to keep building,” he added. “There’s good group of boys here who work bloody hard and we owe it to ourselves to give ourselves a chance of winning something."  

While Bennett admits he has not played as much rugby for Scotland as he would like in recent years, he believes he is a better player than the one who amassed 30 caps between his debut against Argentina a decade ago and his most recent cap against New Zealand in November 2022.  

Scotland Rugby News: Mark Bennett hopes to add to his 30 Scotland capsMark Bennett hopes to add to his 30 Scotland caps (Image: SNS)

Bennett said: “I’ve maybe not played as much as I would have hoped for nationally, but I’m a much better rugby player than I was when I was through west.”  

Bennett admitted his own form has not been up to scratch this season, but spoke to Gregor Townsend before the Six Nations squad was announced and can take heart from being in the Scotland boss’ thoughts.  

He added: “I spoke to Gregor just before the Six Nations. What he said to me is what I said to you ‘We’ve not seen the best of you, but on your day you’ve got it in you to be up there. When you get your chances, show us what you’ve got.’ That’s all I can do.  

“I just need to keep doing me and believing that I’m good enough to be back there. If that day comes, brilliant, I’ll take it and that’s always the aim. If it doesn’t come, I’m satisfied that when I’ve had my opportunities I’ve given everything.

"Never say never.”