HAVING waited half a season to make his debut, Freddie Owsley certainly grabbed his opportunity with both hands when it came along on Friday night, picking up the man-of-the-match award for his two-try contribution towards Edinburgh’s 66-3 Challenge Cup demolition of Brive – but the 25-year-old insisted afterwards that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance.
“I actually thought I had a really shaky game there, to be honest, but it was nice just to feel my way into it,” he reflected.
Results yesterday mean that Edinburgh’s qualification to the last 16 of Challenge Cup is now assured.
Owsley is a former UK sprint champion at under-20s level and was also a footballer of note during his younger days, having spent time on the books at his home-town club Bristol City.
That background came in handy for the first of his two tries on Friday when he dribbled the ball home at high speed from halfway.
But the 25-year-old knows he still has some way to go to surpass the sporting pedigree of sister Lily, who was an Olympic gold medal winner with the GB hockey team at Rio in 2006.
“She’s kind of the star of the family, which is annoying,” chuckled Owsley, who arrived in Edinburgh during the summer after being on an apprentice contract with Bristol Bears.
The winger missed an early opportunity to show what he can do because he had to attend the wedding of his other sister, Emily, on the same day as the club’s final pre-season match against Benetton.
Head coach Mike Blair confirmed after Friday’s match that this left Owsley way down the pecking order for wing options at the start of the season, but the player insists that he was not disheartened by his lack of game time during that period..
“I was happy to wait because I’m in a great place training and having fun here,” he said. “The best thing about here is that I’m in a really happy place with these guys – the Edinburgh guys have welcomed me so much.
“I’ve always wanted to go down the Scottish route. My mum [Jennifer] is from Govan in Glasgow and moved down to Bristol when she was young.
“When it finished up at Bristol last season, Edinburgh called and I was really happy to go there for a second chance and it’s turning out all right,” added Owsley, whose great grandfather, Duncan McPherson, played left-back for Queens Park back in the 1920s.
While clearly delighted with the winger’s contribution against Brive, Blair stressed that there is still plenty scope for Owsley to develop his game if he is to realise his full potential.
“Freddie has worked really hard on his game, especially in the last three or four weeks, and I love seeing that,” he said. “It is about the team finding space or him finding the ability to make the most of that space.
“Often in 15-aside there’s not that option to run around the defence, so we need to work on his footwork and ability to get away from the tackle.
“We’ve got to work hard on his high-ball stuff and his edge defence, because he’s got the natural ability, but he hasn’t played a huge amount of rugby.
“His sister’s wedding was the day of the second warm-up game at the start of the season so he didn’t get his chance then and other guys have taken their opportunities, so it has probably been a bit of a frustrating time for him, but he’s been good in training and we hope to give him a bit of time in the Scotland 7s set-up at some stage as well, just to get him used to using that speed of his in space, so we’ll try to facilitate that.”