“So . . . fly-half cum wing,” was the teasing opening gambit put to Jason Tovey as the Welshman met the media this week.

“. . . and fastest in the squad,” he immediately responded.

Only Tovey will know whether he was merely joining in the fun or there was a little bit of an edge to the remark, but either way the emergence of a little bit of personality in the sanitised world of modern professional rugby was welcome in its own right.

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Nor should his claim be dismissed lightly since the whippet-lean playmaker spent a fair bit of time at previous clubs the Dragons and Cardiff Blues at full-back while, last weekend, he demonstrated his speed over the ground with a 60-metre plus run to complete an intercept score.

“I didn’t think it was that far at the time, but then when I looked I thought ‘Oh, there is quite a way to go’ and I looked round for the wingers and no one was there so I just pinned the ears back and luckily got to the line,” he observed.

His pace has brought an extra dimension to his team’s attacking options and for much of last season caretaker coach Duncan Hodge was preferring him to internationalist Dunc Weir as his starting stand off.

It is, then, also tempting to see the injection of speed Weir produced to give himself the chance of making a fine try-scoring tackle on the Treviso winger Angelo Esposito three weeks ago, as evidence of what competition can do as desperation added an extra yard or two to the former Glasgow player’s chase.

That standout moment came during a sequence of four starts that allowed Weir to restate his claims to be the club’s first-choice No.10, but Tovey is clearly up for the contest.

“It was expected to be fair as I had shoulder surgery at the end of last season so I missed the first pre-season game and expected not to play too much rugby in the first couple of games,” he replied when asked if it had been difficult to be patient over the first month of the new season.

“I got my chance against Leinster, personally things went well, obviously we didn’t get the result, but we are working towards that.”

After the optimism generated by their wins over Tovey’s former clubs on the first two weekends of the season under a new head coach,

it would be only too easy to view the past three weeks as evidence that Edinburgh have already reverted to their default position as one of the weaker PRO14 outfits. The way they set about their work in both Llanelli and Dublin against two of the stronger ones continues to offer some encouragement however.

“You can see a big step forward,” Tovey reckons. “It is not going to change overnight, but I have certainly seen it getting better. We go into every game wanting to win and although the last three defeats haven’t helped we are still building game by game. If we can beat Zebre and get a nice fresh start in Europe we can go again.”

The former aim, though, is by no means as straightforward a proposition as might once have been the case with the Italian club finally, under former Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley, having strung together a couple of impressive wins. In looking ahead, then, Tovey acknowledges both that and the need for him and his team-mates to accept their responsibilities.

“We spoke about the fact that there are no easy games in this competition,” he said. “If you look at the Cheetahs they have won their last few games with bonus points in South Africa and Zebre have won their last two.

“Certainly with the conferences it has opened things up. We have to focus on ourselves and put the performance in. We all know we should win, but if we don’t then they can cause us problems. The coaches can only do so much and it is down to the payers to put pressure on ourselves to get the result.

“To get the win you can’t have one or two of you out of the 23 not there [mentally], but already every game is like a cup final and we have to win most of our games now.”