ANDREW KELLY had to wait six months from being appointed as the Heriot’s Super6 head coach to actually beginning the job at Goldenacre. As he faces another, indefinite wait before being able to take charge of his new squad in competition, the 37-year-old plans to spend the period in limbo doing all he can to ensure that he and his squad will be as ready as possible when rugby resumes.

After a decade as a hooker with Edinburgh, Kelly moved to Hong Kong in 2012, and following several more seasons as a player with Valley, graduated to coaching the club. When he agreed to take charge of the Heriot’s Super6 side, the stipulation was that he should see out his contract in Hong Kong, then arrive at Goldenacre in time for the play-offs.

He duly did that - only for the play-offs to be called off along with the cross-border competition with Welsh clubs. Yet, while he could never have foreseen that the start of the next phase of his career would comprise some months of patient planning without an actual game to take charge of, the former Scotland A cap is using the time well.

Thanks in no small measure to acting head coach Phil Smith and his assistant Finlay Gillies as well as to Kelly, Heriot’s are already well advanced with their plans for next season, whatever shape it takes, whenever it begins. The main concern now for the new boss is that his players, individually and collectively, remain in the best possible shape over these challenging weeks and months.

“We’re going to put out three or four weekly challenges for them to complete,” Kelly explained. “We’re trying to think of ways to get them off the couch and keep ticking over - stuff that you don’t need a gym for, basically.

“I think we’ve got a fairly settled squad. A few guys are leaving us and we’ll look to recruit a few more guys, but our main squad is pretty much sorted.

“If we do get back sooner rather than later, then the guys are fit and ready to go. That’s the main thing, just to keep the players ticking over, so that whether it’s two weeks or two months off, we’ll be ready for it. We think it might be a bit longer than shorter, but we’ll see. The bigger theme is trying to be supportive of everyone and keeping everyone safe - that’s the biggy, obviously.”

Heriot’s had been due to play a home semi-final last weekend against Ayrshire Bulls - the team they beat away from home in the first game of the regular season. Before that win, Smith had already decreed that he would give every member of his squad a chance to play at some point in the first three games, and to the surprise of those who believe you should never change a winning team he stuck by his decision.

“I think that paid off, actually,” Kelly said. “It gave everyone a shot at a starting position, gave guys a bit of a run, so the squad’s really gelled and they’re working well together.

“I think that was really important. We’ve got 35 guys in our squad, and as coaches it’s important to have a look at everyone and give everyone an equal shot at it. Obviously from there you pick your strongest 23 - and I guess that’s what we were doing as we got to the business end of the season.”

Having agreed to look after the Super6 squad while Kelly saw out his Hong Kong contract, Smith is due to take charge of the Heriot’s Blues club side next season, although Kelly will still be able to call on his experience.

“Until we all stopped, Phil was very much taking a lead. I was actually enjoying getting involved with the players and doing a bit of coaching - almost assistant coaching - with Phil and Fin. And I was getting to know the players and all the rest of it, but Phil was definitely leading us.

“The plan now is for Phil to be sort of a mentor to me, and be a resource for me to go and speak to, because he’s had a wealth of experience. I think that will be invaluable for myself and for the club. So he’ll definitely still be around - he’ll be coaching the Blues and helping me out.

“Fin will stay with me and help me out. It’s good for me to have another former hooker to do the scrums and line-outs, as it allows me to focus on the other stuff.”

Focusing on the rugby-specific "other stuff" may not be the priority right now. But, with Gillies beside him and Smith in the background, Kelly knows that, when the action does resume, he is in a good place.