Aberdeen Grammar’s latest arrival Mark New is keen to reboot his rugby career in the north-east.
New had been with Stirling County in Scottish Rugby’s Super 6 but the demands of travelling from his home in Stonehaven after work at least twice a week forced him to re-evaluate his options.
His appearances for Stirling were sparse because he struggled to make training on a regular basis and a developing career with an off-shore logistics firm in Aberdeen prompted him to look a little closer to home.
He was put in touch with Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor and although he has yet to meet his new team-mates because of the Covid-19 lockdown, New is keen to get started.
He said: “When I moved up here for work originally I still wanted to play at the highest level I could. I was travelling down to Stirling two night a week and that was really tough. It took a lot out of me and you don’t really realise until you sit still for a minute that you’re spending four or five hours in a car and not getting back until the back of 12. It’s not really sustainable.
“I think this will be a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to working with Ali. Things weren’t really working out and it took a lot out of me. I wasn’t really playing and I kind of lost the love for it.
“I ended up having a hard conversation with myself. I have my foot in the door with a career that I’m enjoying but I still want to play rugby. Ali said they’re a really good bunch of guys and like to play a brand of fast rugby; I like to go forward from midfield and open the game up a bit for them.”
New played youth rugby for Mackie Academy and was on the books of Glasgow Hawks before returning north last year. He has also represented Scotland at under-20s level.
The outside centre enjoyed the coaching he received at Stirling but feels the Super 6, the new franchise league which was brought in for the 2019-20 season, can be improved.
There is currently no team further north than Stirling, with three in Edinburgh, one in Melrose and the other in Ayr.
New added: “Between the Premiership and Super 6 I couldn’t see uch of a big difference. They are missing out, I think, on a big pool (of players) up north because I’m pretty sure there’s quite a lot of boys who would play. But the focus is on the central belt.
“At Stirling we had Ben Cairns and Eddie Pollock, who are really good guys and I really appreciate what they have done for me.”