Edinburgh Rugby have announced the signing of three Scottish qualified youngsters in Nathan Chamberlain, Ben Muncaster and Dan Gamble on academy deals which will turn into full-time contracts next summer, and head coach Richard Cockerill has promised that three current academy prospects in Rory Darge, Connor Boyle and Sam Grahamslaw will soon be elevated to the senior squad ahead of next season.

Meanwhile, an experienced Scottish-qualified second-row is also set to join the club in the coming weeks. “It’s not right at this point to announce it but we’ve signed someone who is Scottish and a good player and he’ll do a good job for us,” said Cockerill.

The club has come under some fire in recent months for a perceived preference for importing foreign players rather than developing Scottish talent, and Cockerill was keen to stress that these latest contract negotiations provide evidence that a balance is being struck between the short-term imperative of success in the here and now, and the long-term objective of making the game in this country more self-sustainable.

“We have a good system and we are producing players," he insisted. "It is just about getting the best ones in the system as soon as possible to give them the opportunity to develop and the best chance to play at the level we need them in the pro teams and the national side.

“There are six players there who are all young Scottish players and hopefully they will come through and do some really good things, as have lots of other guys who have come through in the last two or three years.

“It’s getting the balance between getting the Scottish lads coming through and making sure we’re competitive when the Scottish players are away with the national team.”

Chamberlain, who was one of Scotland’s top performers during the recent U20 Six Nations (finishing the campaign with a flourish when he scored three tries and 32 points in a man-of-the-match performance against Wales in round five) is moving to the capital after playing at Hartpury College whilst being on an academy contract with hometown club Bristol Bears during the last two seasons. He is now 20 years old and qualifies for Scotland through his Fife-born paternal grandmother.

“We have been looking to bring someone through and he has done very well this year,” said Cockerill. “He was keen to come up and join us and I was keen to give him the opportunity [as a replacement for Jason Baggot], which will help develop a succession plan moving forward for that position and other positions in the squad.

"He has enjoyed being with the Scotland 20s and he knows there is a route through Edinburgh to potentially play more games. Obviously, he is not playing for Bristol and for Hartpury he didn't feature in the Championship, but he has done well and he clearly has real talent and potential and he wants to play for Scotland.”

18-year-old Muncaster was born and introduced to rugby in North Berwick, before heading to Rugby School on a scholarship and joining the Leicester Tigers academy when he was 14. He played for Scotland in last April’s U18 Six Nations Festival, scoring two tries in the team’s dramatic final-round win over Ireland, and was selected for an England Under-18 development camp last October.

19-year-old tighthead prop Dan Gamble came through the ranks in Kelso before heading to Merchiston Castle School on a scholarship when he was 15. He played for Scotland at Under-16 and Under-18 level, and appeared regularly for Heriot’s in Super6 at the start of last season, but missed out on the U20s Six Nations due to a neck injury.

“He is very young [for his position] but the one thing we have to do is put these guys on longer-term contracts and develop them,” said Cockerill. “He’s got a really good pedigree from school and age-grades, he’s a very mobile and physical ball-carrier, and his set-piece is good for his age but we need to develop that.

“I’ve put a plan together for developing him over the next few years and hopefully by the time he gets to his early 20s, he’s a regular for us and playing for Scotland, no different to Zander Fagerson at Glasgow.

“He’s a very good player from good farming stock in Kelso, and he wants to play for Scotland. He’s determined to do that, but I have told him he has to be good enough to play for Edinburgh first, and we’re working on that. We’re looking forward to seeing his development."

Of course, the decision of whether to look overseas or stay local in the player market could well be taken out of Cockerill's hands depending on the state of Scottish Rugby's finances after the Covid-19 crisis. "I am more than happy to work with whatever restraints we have," insisted the coach. "For me, the most important thing is to get back playing. Everyone at Edinburgh is certainly willing to do whatever it takes to make the game viable and help get it back on its feet again."

Cockerill also confirmed that second-row Callum Hunter-Hill will not be returning to the club from his loan spell with fallen English champions Saracens. “Currently, he is still on loan at Sarries and at some point I think that will be made permanent,” he said.