James Lang credits Gregor Townsend for helping him transition from stand-off to centre

James Lang credits Gregor Townsend with helping him make the transition from stand-off to centre and says the positional switch helped him reboot his career.

James Lang is hoping his move to Edinburgh will improve his chances of playing for Scotland. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
James Lang is hoping his move to Edinburgh will improve his chances of playing for Scotland. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Lang is hoping his summer move to Edinburgh from Harlequins will make him more visible to Townsend as he looks to add to his tally of six caps.

The Scotland coach named him on Wednesday in his 36-man training squad for the Autumn Nations Series and Lang will hook up with the national side at the Oriam on Sunday.

His last outing for Scotland came in the one-point loss to Wales in the Six Nations in February, the only blemish on his international cv after a run of five straight wins.

James Lang's last outing for Scotland was against Wales in the Guinness Six Nations in February. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

His breakthrough came on Scotland’s tour of the Americas in 2018 when he played in the wins over Canada in Edmonton and Argentina in Resistencia.

Lang, 26, says Townsend was “massively” influential in helping him adapt to playing at inside centre after playing most of his career as a fly-half.

“That was the first season I had my first game at 12 for Quins as well - Nick Evans [Harlequins attack coach] moved me there and he kind of saw me as more of a ball-playing 12,” explained Lang.

“Gregor also saw that, so from there it was a great experience. It was very new to me, that position, so after that I spent a year or so just kind of honing my skills. It’s a different game from playing 10 - it’s a lot more physical, I guess, but I like that part of it.

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“There’s a little bit less pressure on making calls and stuff, and you can kind of help out the 10 as well - I know what 10s need, having played there. I really enjoy playing 12 and that’s my favourite position.

“2018 seems years ago now - I’ve come a long way since then. But that was definitely the stepping stone of rebooting my career. I really saw then that I wanted to focus on 12 and that’s what I’ve done since then. I feel that it’s gone pretty well.”

Lang’s move to Edinburgh should increase his international opportunities. For example, the opening match of the autumn series, against Tonga at Murrayfield on October 30, falls outside the designated Test window so the team is likely to be selected only from players who play in the United Rugby Championship.

The player admits his decision to leave Quins and head north was made with one eye on Scotland.

“It was definitely to be more visible and accessible, I guess. I’ve got aspirations to play for my country a lot more, and first and foremost I’ve got to put it out on the pitch at Edinburgh, then what will be will be. I’m enjoying it at the minute here.”

“The big thing for me was game time. I was still quite new to centre and I wasn’t getting the consistent game time at Quins that I would have wanted. Obviously there’s a lot of competition there - as there is here at Edinburgh as well. Everywhere you go there’s going to be players in your position and you’re going to have to compete and you’re going to have to play well to keep your shirt.”

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