FORMER Scotland and British & Irish Lions rugby star Simon Taylor will become the latest high- profile player to return to the club game when he turns out for Watsonians tomorrow.
Taylor, who last played for Bath in the 2012/13 season, is likely to line-up in the second-row alongside teenager Matt Poole as the Edinburgh side get their competitive season underway at Myreside against Biggar in the BT Cup.
The 35-year-old has been training with the squad for a large chunk of pre-season and turned out for the club in their final warm-up match against Edinburgh Accies last weekend. By joining Watsonians he has teamed up with his former Scotland teammate Marcus Di Rollo, who is the head coach at Myreside.
Di Rollo, who himself earned 21 Scotland caps and played with Taylor in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, said: “It is great to have Simon on board. He has been training really hard, has not missed a session in recent weeks and I think he is enjoying getting the boots back on again.
“I was keen to bring in some experience to our pack to help our young players along this season, and someone like Simon will help greatly with that. I am not putting any pressure on him to perform week in, week out. I just want him to stay fit, be one of the lads, and enjoy his rugby.”
Last year, Di Rollo also managed to persuade another ex-international teammate, Allan Jacobsen, to play for Watsonians only for injury to end his career.
Taylor won 66 caps for his country between 2000 and 2009 and was involved with the British & Irish Lions on the 2001 and 2005 tours to Australia and New Zealand only to see both trips cut short by injury.
Having made an impression with Heriot’s and in the Scotland age-grade squads, Taylor joined Edinburgh in 2000 and then went on to play for Stade Francais in France and Bath Rugby in England, both for three seasons. After 65 appearances for Bath Rugby, he left them in the summer of 2013 and the news that he is likely to be playing will light up the BT Cup round one card tomorrow and also the BT National One campaign that starts next weekend.
Although mainly used as a back-row in his pro career, Taylor is poised to line up in the second-row tomorrow, with Di Rollo keen for him to fill the void left by former Scotland ‘A’ cap Mark Rennie in that position for Watsonians.
He will also hope that Taylor can help new Watsonians captain Ross Aitken and others around him on the pitch as they aim for promotion to the top tier.
Taylor is the latest former Scotland player to return to the club game in either a playing or coaching capacity.
Indeed, a number have done so this summer and tomorrow in the BT Premiership Ben Cairns will take charge of Currie as head coach for the first time.
He won eight Scotland caps as a centre, while in the other dugout at Malleny Park will be another new head coach, Nikki Walker. The latter won 24 Scotland caps on the wing.
Meanwhile, Craig Hamilton, who won five Scotland caps and turns 35 on Monday, is set to turn out for Falkirk this season.
He has been named in the second-row for the BT Cup match with Dumfries tomorrow and is likely to feature in their BT National Two campaign that gets underway next weekend.