Shiel reflects on his first year as a pro
It has certainly been a breakthrough year for scrum-half, Charlie Shiel. In a season in which the 21-year-old joined his dad (Graham Shiel) and grandad (Dougie Morgan) in representing the capital, Shiel admits that his first year as a pro has been a ‘dream come true.’
But, after featuring in both the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final against Munster and final 1872 Cup match against Glasgow Warriors, how does the scrum-half describe his breakthrough 2018/19 campaign?
“It’s pretty hard to sum up your first season as a pro in just one word,” explained Shiel. “It’s definitely been a great experience. I’ve learned huge amounts from the other scrum-halves.
“In terms of training, you pick up so much throughout the year and getting a decent run of games at the tail end of the season was brilliant as well.
“It’s been so far, so good, but next season is a different beast altogether. It’s another chapter that I’m really looking forward to starting.”
After a slow start to the year, Shiel made his debut for the club in January’s 38-0 bonus point win over Southern Kings at BT Murrayfield – a match in which the scrum-half made a clever half-break to set-up Cameron Fenton for a simple score.
And the scrum-half confesses his relief at shedding his doughnut (0 appearances for the club), and the pride at making the step-up to become the third generation of his family to turn out for the club.
“It was great to get rid of the doughnut, but honestly it was class. The boys were already up 30-0 when I came on against Southern Kings, so they made it easy for me
“It’s always good to start your career with a win and it was great to finally achieve a dream that I’ve had for a long time."
“The biggest difference when stepping up from club rugby, or even age-grade rugby, is definitely your tactical knowledge and awareness on the pitch. Couple that with your off-field improvements.
“A lot of the time, your rugby talks for itself, but it’s knowing what to do in a split-second during a match that makes the biggest difference. And also knowing what your opponent is going to do. These skills come with time and experience.”
Time and experience are undoubtedly crucial factors in a scrum-half’s development, but after been thrown in at the deep end in March’s Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final at BT Murrayfield, Shiel’s raw playmaking abilities came to fore.
The scrum-half was a livewire as Edinburgh stringed together 30 plus phases in the final stages of the encounter, before coming up just short against a streetwise Munster outfit
“I think the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter-Final against Munster, bar the result itself, has been one the biggest highlights of my career. In terms of the atmosphere, playing in front of such a big crowd and the occasion of the day – it was all a first for me.
“Playing against a guy like Connor Murray is only going to improve my game. He’s one of the best in the world at our position. I guess you’re a bit star struck, but at the same time you don’t want to let know that – you want to take him down a peg or two!”
There will be no time for Shiel to be star struck next season as he is now – alongside Henry Pyrgos – just one of two scrum-halves on the capital side’s books.
The 21-year-old knows what is expected of him as preparations intensify for the 2018/19 campaign and he is relishing earning more of the coaches’ trust in the process.
“It’s good knowing that the coaches trust me and can put me on the bench in these huge games. A lot of it is aiming towards next year, so they can push that trust in me, and so I can put some pressure on Henry in that starting spot.”