No professional sports player who is packing up their house in preparation for a 400-mile trip north to a new city and club wants to hear the news that the coach who has signed them has abruptly left the building – and James Lang admits to being slightly unnerved when he found out last month that Richard Cockerill was no longer the main man at Edinburgh. 

“I won’t lie, there were a couple of days when I was in limbo, I didn’t know who was coming in and I was a little bit agitated,” he says, before mulling it over some more and concluding that he has underplayed his mood at that point.  

“It was panic stations, because you sign for a club, for a coach, and then that coach leaves and you think: ‘what if the next coach comes in and I’m not part of his plans or he doesn’t like me?’ That all goes through my mind.” 

While Lang’s credentials as a Scotland international who is highly rated by national team head coach Gregor Townsend means it would be strange if he was frozen out at a club where all the major decisions are still made in Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson’s office – he wouldn’t have been the first player with such a CV to find himself in that predicament. 

From the player’s point of view, there is also the fact that he was leaving his local club, where he had played as a schoolboy and signed his first professional contract in 2016, and who have just won the English Premiership, to make the move to Edinburgh. No wonder he was on edge! 

Fortunately for Lang, it was announced within a week that Mike Blair would move from being an assistant coach with Scotland to the Edinburgh job. An appointment he greeted with relief and relish. 

“I dropped him the message straight away,” the 26-year-old smiles. “I got on well with Mike in camp with Scotland, so after that I was buzzing to get started with the team. Under his coaching style the team and myself will really thrive.” 

Lang adds that he expects Blair to promote a similar rugby mind-set as he experienced during the last six months of his time with Harlequins, when they marched to the English title under an interim-coaching team playing a liberated brand of rugby.  

“The last six months was a very different place to what it was previously because there was a free-flowing approach to our game,” he says. “Mike will bring that attacking mind-set here so I don’t think it will be a style of play too dissimilar to what I experienced at Quins. He is a very good coach as the work he was doing with Scotland showed.  

“With the new pitch as well, it will be a bit faster and will benefit the team. I am buzzing to get started in games.” 

While Lang clearly has a lot of affection and admiration for the club he has just left, it is equally apparent that he believes he has made the right choice. 

“I spent five years at Quins and I loved playing there, but it was very stop-start with game time and moving round positions,” he explains. “I missed out on the Premiership Final at the end of last season, which was a tough pill to swallow really. So, I had to look at where I fit and where I would progress the most.  

“I have aspirations to play for my country a lot more and in order to do that I have to play in my best position which is centre, and I haven’t played there a lot over the last couple of years. I just felt making the move to come up here would help me pursue my goals. 

“It was definitely the right decision [to move to Edinburgh], it was a no brainer. It was hard as I had been comfortable, and when you enjoy your time somewhere it is difficult to leave, but I can’t wait for the next few years now.” 

Lang finally arrived in Edinburgh a fortnight ago today and is renting a flat in the trendy Stockbridge area of the city. His likes what he has seen so far, having been mostly restricted to the Oriam campus during his previous visits on Scotland team duty. 

“It is now just about getting up to speed, blowing away the cobwebs and getting stuck in,” he adds. 

Edinburgh head to Largs tomorrow for a training camp at the National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde.