YOU could call it The Long Hello. Like his fellow-New-Zealander Vern Cotter before him, Simon Hickey has had to wait a long time between agreeing a move to Scotland and getting down to business. Now, some nine months after putting pen to paper, the 24-year-old stand-off is at last poised to prove how important a player he can be for Edinburgh, starting with Friday’s friendly against Bath.

A light-hearted and approachable individual, Hickey is a very different character from the taciturn Cotter, who had to serve the remaining year of his contract with Clermont in France before becoming Scotland’s head coach back in 2014. But in a sense both men have been tasked with the same thing: bringing the best out of the talent they have around them.

Cotter gave Scotland a harder edge. Hickey, who has joined Edinburgh after three years with Bordeaux Begles, will be expected to add some inspiration to the extra perspiration the team displayed last season, their first under Richard Cockerill.

Qualification for the PRO14 play-offs was evidence of the swift impact made by Cockerill, but the coach has always insisted his team are a work in progress. A playmaker of Hickey’s pedigree will be expected to help accelerate that progress.

The rapid rise of Blair Kinghorn and the signing of Duhan van der Merwe gave Edinburgh a sharper cutting edge out wide in the last campaign, but the illness that eventually forced centre Robbie Fruean to retire deprived the team of an important focal point further infield. After beginning the season with Jason Tovey and Duncan Weir - both now departed - as his main stand-offs, Cockerill signed Jaco van der Walt in November. The South African played solidly enough and became established as the team’s first-choice 10, but former New Zealand Under-20s captain Hickey has significantly greater experience of leadership. Having had a glimpse in training of the array of talent in the Edinburgh back line, he is now eager to help it function in earnest.

“There are certainly a few backs with a bit of X-factor out there,” he said. “Blair is one of them, Dougie Fife . . . . Matt Scott looks like a really good player. I’m excited to see how all the boys shape up in a game, because you follow them in training and get an idea, but you only see them properly in games.”

Hickey missed several months of last season because of a knee injury sustained around the time he signed for Edinburgh, but he was back in Top 14 action in the spring and has completed a full pre-season’s training. Without any Scottish parentage, he had no first-hand knowledge of rugby here, but was convinced by the now-departed Phil Burleigh that he would be joining a team with serious potential.

“The way he spoke, it was a club that had improved ever since he arrived and he really enjoyed living in the city,” Hickey said. “I didn’t have much of a perception of Edinburgh myself, it was more a perception of Scottish rugby which is obviously a team that has improved massively over the last five to 10 years, competing in World Cups and the Six Nations.”

Needless to say, Cockerill also played a key role in persuading Hickey to leave France behind. “I had a good chat with him about what he’s trying to achieve here. He has big ambitions and he saw me as a player that will hopefully slot into the mould of the game that he is trying to play. I hope that unfolds: I hope that I can repay the faith and play some good rugby for Edinburgh and have some success.”

Edinburgh v Bath, Friday 17 Aug, Meggetland, 7.30pm.