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 offshore 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 nights 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.”
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 much 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.”