Charlie Shiel was a man in a hurry as he came through the ranks as a free-wheeling scrum-half with the slickest of passes and an incredible burst of pace. However, after signing his first professional contract with Edinburgh in March 2018, everything seemed to slow down.  

All of a sudden he was getting less game-minutes than he was used to, and he had Richard Cockerill, head coach at the capital club, on his back about the need to take his foot off the gas when deciding whether to pass, kick, run or keep it tight. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but the 22-year-old is in absolutely no doubt about the long term benefit of this change in gear. 

“Like any young guy, when you are involved in a professional set-up and you get that taste for it, you just want more and more, so it can be a bit frustrating when you don’t get game time,” he says. “But looking back at it, for someone in my position, it probably has been a good thing to be almost drip-fed in – and I think that has probably got me to where I am now with how my game has progressed. 

"One thing Cockers has spoken to me about is: when you are coming up through the age-grades, or playing club rugby, as a nine you are there to pass the ball and run. And that is where a lot of my game is – passing and running – I find that a lot easier than the kicking side of it and barking at these big Scotland players to command them around the pitch. It’s that sort of control that I’ve been trying to work on.” 

Shiel spent most of the 2019-20 season behind Henry Pyrgos and Nic Groom in the scrum-half pecking-order at Edinburgh, and it was injuries to that pair which contributed to being involved in all four games the capital club have played since the end of lockdown. 

Shiel is full of praise for the two older men but is determined to turn their misfortune to his advantage. 

“There have been times during analysis sessions when I’ve watched the two of them more than the actual game itself, it’s great to have them to feed off,” he explains. 

“But it has been a great opportunity for me to show that I’m not just a 20-minute man at the end of a game. I want to show that I can play a full 80 minutes. I want to show I can do the same as what the other two guys can do, if not more.” 

The nature of Scottish professional rugby is such that if Shiel manages to hold onto his spot in the Edinburgh team during the next few months then a Scotland call-up will be just one small step away. “It’s up to me in the coming weeks to push as hard as I can in the game-time that I get for that role – it would be a good outcome if I could get involved,” he concludes. 

Edinburgh launch their 2020-21 PRO14 season against the Ospreys at Murrayfield tomorrow night [7.35pm kick-off].