HE ARRIVED as a fair dinkum Aussie backpacker 17 years ago and went on to become one of Scotland’s best players of the past decade and a half. Now Nathan Hines is hoping to help develop the current crop and future stars after being appointed to the national coaching set-up.
The 77-times capped 39-year-old will join head coach Vern Cotter’s team next month in a role described as a resource coach. This follows his decision to hang up his boots after spending this season with Sale Sharks.
The news came on the same day that it was announced that scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta has left the Scotland coaching team for personal reasons after almost six years as a set-piece specialist.
Hines worked with Cotter at French club Clermont Auvergne after the New Zealander signed the no-nonsense lock from then Heineken Cup champions Leinster in 2011. He had previously played in France for Perpignan and went on to play in another Heineken Cup final in 2013 as a member of the Clermont side which lost to Toulon.
Hines is expected to focus on lineout play as well as supporting the development of the younger international forwards alongside assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys.
Cotter said: “Nathan has a huge amount of experience, not only in rugby union, but also in rugby league.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to help a team I played with for 11 years, and one I obviously want to do well”Nathan Hines
“His speciality is the lineout but we have seen, both for Scotland and other teams, that he has a very broad skill set. He will be an excellent resource for many facets of our game, particularly lineouts and as a role model for our younger players.
“He has always held leadership roles within the teams he has represented, which has enabled him to become a positive communicator. That will be important as we go into a very tough Rugby World Cup pool.
“Nathan has been involved at the highest level, so his ability to communicate his experiences to the group and to individuals will be very useful.
“He has a lot of passion for Scotland and I know he will get a lot of enjoyment from being part of the development of our players – many of whom are just starting their senior careers – and encouraging them to fill the jersey in the best way possible.”
Hines said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to help a team I played with for 11 years, and one I obviously want to do well; a team that has given me so much and helped me develop as a player.
“I think that Scotland have got some exceptional young players and I’m relishing the opportunity to help make them better than they already are. They’ve got huge potential and I want to help them in their development.
“The chance to work with Vern again is another great benefit of this role. He knows how I work and I know how he works, which might have been part of the decision why he asked me to come on board. We got on really well at Clermont and I’m looking forward to working with him again.”
He added: “Part of helping the team mature is sharing my experience and showing them how not to make the same mistakes I did, on my travels, and in my 11 years playing for Scotland.”
After the Rugby World Cup, Hines’ role will broaden to include work with Edinburgh and Glasgow, the new BT Sport Academies, and Scotland age-grade teams, to help nurture young international players.
Wagga Wagga-born Hines played league for North Sydney Bears and union for Manly before heading to the land of his grandparents on a working holiday in 1998. He linked up with Gala RFC and became an integral part of the Maroons side, which also included Chris Paterson, who won the 1999 Scottish Cup and Melrose Sevens. His impressive displays and Scottish qualification earned him a professional contract with Edinburgh in the summer of 1999 and he went on to make his Scotland debut against New Zealand at Eden Park in the summer of 2000. It was at the same stadium he made his 77th and final appearance in dark blue as a replacement in the 16-12 loss
to England in the 2011 World Cup.
There was a brief break in his Test career when he announced his international retirement in 2005 after becoming disillusioned with the Matt Williams-Willie Anderson regime, although he returned when his former Edinburgh coach Frank Hadden took over as Scotland coach. In 2009 he toured South Africa with the Lions but did not feature in the Test series.
Hines signed a two-year deal with Sale Sharks last summer but has decided to hang up his boots and terminate his contract a year early.
As Hines comes in, Cuttita’s time with Scotland has come to an end. Former Scotland coach Andy Robinson recruited the 69-times capped Italy prop in the summer of 2009 to help strengthen Scotland’s scrum, and be available to the country’s two pro teams. An SRU spokesperson said: “Scottish Rugby and the Scotland team would like to thank Massimo for his work and enthusiasm over the past ten years, having worked as a consultant for four years prior to his permanent employment.”