Some players find it a wrench to leave rugby.

For Andy Henderson, that experience had a rather novel twist. He left rugby and found a wrench.

It seems no time at all since the hard-running centre was rattling in the tries for Glasgow and Scotland. Ten years a professional player, and with 53 Scotland appearances to his name, his rugby cv read well enough to suggest that a decent career in coaching would follow. Instead, Henderson decided a career in plumbing was what he really wanted to do.

The caps-to-taps transition was made easier by the fact that Bernard Dunn, the president of GHA, Henderson’s local club, also happened to be the director of Pyramid Construction. So it came to pass that Henderson was invited to plug a gap in the GHA backline while sorting out leaks around Glasgow. Thus far, everything is going smoothly on both fronts.

Henderson’s days as a full-time professional ended last January, when a six-month injury cover stint at Newcastle drew to a close. Three months later, he donned his dungarees for the first time and embarked on a four-year plumbing apprenticeship. After a decade of pampering and prodding he was out there in the big, bad – and frequently wet and cold – world.

“It’s different,” Henderson said, erring firmly on the side of understatement. “You always know when you’re playing rugby that you’re going to have to get a proper job at some point. It’s nice to be starting something new and moving on with things.

“Obviously, it’s a very different working life, and training is now something that has to be squeezed in at the end of the day. But I’m enjoying it so far.”

Novelty is one thing. Standing ankle-deep in something much nastier than anything he ever experienced on a wet night at Hughenden is quite another. Still, he is savouring the change.

“Everybody just mucks in with whatever needs to be done,” he said breezily. “Obviously, there are some unpleasant jobs, but you just get on with it.”

The extent to which Henderson has moved on from the life he used to lead can be illustrated by the fact he was not actually aware that Glasgow and Newcastle, two of his former clubs, would be getting their seasons under way with a friendly at Firhill tonight. Having been told, would he think of heading to Maryhill to meet up with a few old team-mates?

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’ve got a game with GHA on Saturday and it would be a bit much to go out and watch another game on Friday as well.”

Four years have gone by since Henderson enjoyed his greatest hour on a rugby pitch, when he scored a hat trick of tries in Scotland’s 2007 World Cup warm-up match against Ireland at Murrayfield. Last weekend, when the Irish were again in Edinburgh, he marked the anniversary by turning out for GHA against Falkirk. Tomorrow’s opposition is Biggar. When the season proper gets under way, he and GHA will be battling away in Premier Division 3.

It is a culture shock as striking as any move from the heights of the Heineken Cup to sorting out Mrs McCafferty’s dodgy stopcock. Yet, pitching up at Braidholm, Henderson has found his enthusiasm for rugby revived by the company of players who are there because they want to be, not because they’re paid to be. He has also found that some of them are rather good.

“I’ve been impressed by a number of players here,” Henderson said. “Some are really talented, put in a lot of training hours and are very dedicated. Obviously, you get your social players as well, but there are certainly a few who could have been professional if they had been given chances.

“I try to pass on a few bits and pieces from playing pro rugby, but that’s what the coaches are there for, so I try not to be long-winded about it. We only have a couple of training sessions a week, and you want to get as much done there as you can. You can’t stand around blethering all the time.”

Henderson got out of the professional game on his own terms. At 31, he was no spring chicken, but nor was he in his dotage. But after making his decision to get out, were there no moments of existential angst when he wondered if he had done the right thing?

“No, not at all. You always know that you’ll have to get on and do something else. To be honest, it’s more a relief to be getting on rather than worrying about what’s going to happen. It’s just good to be moving on with a different career now.”

Glasgow are not exactly weighed down with midfield players with Henderson’s power and experience. So has he had the call from Sean Lineen to ask if he might be available as emergency cover?

“No,” he said, laughing. “And I’m not expecting it. I think they’re pretty well covered without me.”