In the Boyler room
Connor Boyle is loving life in an Edinburgh jersey and is looking to seize his opportunity in the capital club’s pack.
Born in Livingston, and an Edinburgh-man through and through, Boyle has been relishing the chance to play for the club he grew up supporting.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Boyle. “Freddie Owsley says I’m the biggest fan of Edinburgh at the club, probably because I get really into the games even on the side-line.
"It’s amazing to be able to represent my boyhood club, a club that I’ve had a season ticket at before. To put on that jersey and turn out for the club is amazing.”
The 21-year-old has stepped into the breach in the absence of Edinburgh’s Scotland internationalists and injured back-rowers, and impressed in an eventful game last time out against Leinster at the RDS Arena.
Boyle was unfazed by facing the reigning league champions, and despite an unlucky yellow card, he made a sizeable impact in a physical display from openside.
The abrasive forward won three turnovers – two from jackals and one ripping the ball – and was the side’s most successful and prolific tackler, completing 17/17 efforts. Arguably though, it was the test of Boyle’s character to rise after the period in the sin bin that caught the eye.
“From myself it was about having a bit of resilience, it was obviously not the nicest of my four starts for the club, being yellow carded and put in the bin.
"But to have the mental capacity to come back into the game and put in a big shift off the bench; I probably owed it to the boys.
“Sitting on the bench and being annoyed at being sent off is a bit of motivation for yourself, so coming back on I looked to do as much as I could to almost earn back the time I was off.”
The former Stewart’s Melville captain has been waiting in line for his opportunity, and with back-row colleagues away with Scotland for the Guinness Six Nations, Head Coach Mike Blair has given Boyle the seven jersey.
“It’s a great opportunity for me, with some of the older guys away with Scotland and a few who are unlucky with injury at the moment. To get this run of games is something I’ve probably not had in two years, since I was playing U20s.
“Getting that run of form back into my legs and my lungs is unbelievable, and the chance to get better every week is great.
“There’s always time to learn things when they’re here, but it’s getting those reps in the starting team that help. It’s unbelievable to be able to get the opportunity to play when those guys are away, being able to play the game is the main thing for me.”
Edinburgh are in the midst of a run of away fixtures, which will be quickly followed by another away trip to Irish heavyweights Munster. However, the chance to test himself against the best, in some of rugby’s great stadiums, is something that excites Boyle.
“The RDS was a great place to play, and Thomond Park is one of the best places to play rugby in the world.
"For the young squad we’ve got it’s about putting everything we can into those games, on paper we might not be as strong as them, but the belief and energy we bring and the opportunity to step up is there.
“We want to go out there and do everything we can to win, it’s a really important run of fixtures for the club and for us younger lads.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve got hard targets; it’s about improving week in week out. I look to get better as a player and an athlete each week, looking at video analysis and working on my game after training – being able to back up each performance.
“This week I’m looking to back up the physicality I brought against Leinster, and bring the same again this week.”