FORMER Scotland flanker John Hardie has taken his first step into coaching with an assistant role overseeing the forwards at National League Two side Stewart’s Melville.

The 33-year-old, who is originally from New Zealand and qualifies to play for Scotland through his grandmother from Fife, said when announcing his retirement from playing in June that he was keen to stay involved in the game. Now, after returning to Edinburgh from Newcastle – where he had played his club rugby for the last three seasons – Hardie has been persuaded by an old friend from home that Inverleith is the ideal place to take that first step in his post-playing career.

“I got a call from Nick McCashin, the director of rugby at Stewart’s Melville, who I had played against as a youngster back in New Zealand and he was getting in touch to see if I would be keen to do some coaching at the club,” explained Hardie, who will assist new head coach Alex Hagart.

“We had a good chat and I liked his vision for where the club are headed so it seemed like a good opportunity for me to dip my toe into the world of coaching.

“Obviously, I have been playing professionally for over a decade, so I haven’t had much coaching experience as yet, but I am very keen to learn, and I think working with an enthusiastic, young bunch of players down at Inverleith will be a great start for me.

“I am also doing some strength and conditioning and personal training too, so things are busy, but I am embracing the things that are coming my way post-playing.” 

While the semi-pro Super6 league returned in Scotland last weekend, competitive club rugby below that level will not emerge from lockdown until the traditional season start date at the beginning of September.