STEPPING into the cauldron that is an Edinburgh Rugby – Glasgow Warriors derby match may be intimidating, but for Edinburgh centre George Taylor, it is nothing compared to knocking the door of the capital club’s head coach Richard Cockerill and asking for a word.

The Englishman is well-known for his straight-talking style and so when Taylor made the decision to speak to the man in charge about his lack of time on the pitch and the possibility of playing in different positions, he had to psych himself up somewhat beforehand.

“It was a tough thing to do that and quite daunting,” said Taylor.

“It was all from my annoyance and not getting game time at pre-season that I asked to speak to him.

“Was I waiting nervously outside his office before knocking though? Yeah, for a while!

“I wanted to see where I stood in the squad. He explained things, he’s always straight-up, a very honest man.”

Taylor signed for Edinburgh in May of 2018 and Cockerill had him pegged as a 13. But with Scotland internationalist Mark Bennett, as well as James Johnstone ahead of him in the pecking order, getting on the pitch was a tall order.

Taylor did not get a minute of play in Edinburgh’s pre-season games last summer but the 23-year-old believed he had the ability to be far more versatile than solely as a 12, and wanted to let the head coach know. It certainly paid off.

“When I went to speak to him, he said, `you’re a 13. I’m not going to drop Mark Bennett or Jimmy Johnstone’. I said I can play 12, and he said, `I didn’t know that’. So he gave me the opportunity to train there and he was pleased with what he saw. Now he knows!,” said Taylor.

“After I spoke to Cockers, he gave me the opportunity to play 12, and I trained there leading up to the weeks before the first PRO14 games. I think I was on the bench and took my opportunity from there.”

It was a tough spell for Taylor, who came through the Scottish Rugby Academy and moved to Edinburgh having learnt his trade with Melrose. He was a key player for the Borders side, playing an integral role in their Cup and Premiership double in 2018.

So when he moved to Edinburgh and was only getting very limited game-time, it came as something of a shock to the system. But the support of his more experienced teammates helped him through the challenging spell.

“It was tough,” he said.

“Training is the hardest because you’re knocking your pan in every day and knowing you won’t probably get selected at the weekend. It’s mentally demanding all the time but you have to keep on track and focused. If you slacken off then boys ahead of you will progress. I didn’t get a lot of a game time last year and felt quite fresh but maybe not as comfortable going into games because I’ve not had the exposure to match fitness and physicality.

“The boys around you help. I’ve spoken quite a lot to Chris Dean, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott. They said `look, your opportunity will come, there will be injuries’, and I listen to them because they’ve been through it. They helped me a lot, and obviously they were right.”

Taylor has made a breakthrough this season, making fifteen appearances and scoring three tries. He has impressed Cockerill and his coaching staff to such an extent that last month, it was revealed the outside centre has been given a contract extension, with his good form having paid off.

His side are currently flying high, sitting in second place in their conference only a point behind Munster. they host the Southern Kings at Murrayfield this Saturday and the signs are good for Taylor that he will, yet again, be included in Cockerill’s starting line-up.

And while 12 may not have been his original home, he now feels perfectly comfortable there.

“After playing so much at 12 now I’ll take that jersey. But I enjoy 13 with more space and time on the ball. 12’s a lot more physical, and I enjoy that aspect of the game,” he said.

“I enjoy the physicality, it’s good. When you’re playing against boys further up, opposite you, you want to be as physical as you can.

“And I feel more integrated in the squad. You have respect and trust from guys around you. For team chemistry it’s good they’re not worrying about someone new coming in and making mistakes. It’s a lot easier for me now knowing I can slot in and do a job there.”