Di Rollo hopes Myreside revival will mirror his own

MARCUS Di Rollo has confirmed he will take over as Watsonians head coach next season with the desire to lay foundations for a Myreside revival and a personal move back to professional rugby.

The 32-year-old won 21 caps for Scotland as Frank Hadden strived to inspire Scotland with a more creative midfield. However, after the 2007 World Cup in France, Di Rollo left Edinburgh for Toulouse and his career came to a slow, grinding halt, an exciting new life in the south of France dimmed by a drawn-out medical battle that left him only desperate to return to Scotland.

Now, the smile is back, Di Rollo has launched into business back in Edinburgh and is enthusiastically working to find out whether he has what it takes to be a professional coach.

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"I am really looking forward to the challenge and seeing what I can do as a coach," he said. "I have enjoyed helping Bruce (Aitchison, departing head coach] this season and with the boys staying up we have a chance now to build again.

"I would like to think I might be able to coach in professional rugby and be part of that again one day, but it's a case of small steps first. Let's see how I get on next season at Myreside and then we'll take it from there."

Di Rollo has endured a tough couple of years since that fateful move to Toulouse. It all started promisingly with him enjoying pre-season training in Toulouse and forcing himself into the starting team in the friendlies, but then an existing heart condition caused the medics some concern.

"I had what in layman's terms is called a heart murmur, although that is a broad term, which I'd discovered in 2005. A heart specialist here told me that if you were to screen the population a percentage would show up the same thing, so he said 'you've played rugby for a good few years professionally and don't have any symptoms that cause you problems, so you're fine to carry on'.

"It never bothered me after that, but the opinions of doctors in France differed to doctors in the UK."

A heart specialist in France said it was a problem and though Di Rollo visited leading specialists in London and Belgium, who both gave him the green light to continue, Toulouse would not act against the advice of a Paris doctor.

"There was interest then from other clubs, but when they heard there is a medical dispute it went cold. It was not a nice way to finish your career, but after a while you just accept it as life and have to move on. I did that last year and coaching at Watsonians has really helped me get my love back for the game."

Aitchison's work in helping rebuild the club's depth behind the scenes was not reflected in the 1st XV achievements – escaping relegation this term only in the final game – but it provides a better foundation for Di Rollo than he inherited, and Aitchison is hopeful that Di Rollo can lift the team.

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He said: "Marcus has obviously got the knowledge from his time at the top of the game, playing with Edinburgh and in France. He grew into the role as backs coach well and has signed up for coaching courses.

"It will be a big challenge being head coach, as it was for me, and he will need good people to support him."

Di Rollo, who will be assisted by Andy Barnett with other coaches to be confirmed, added: "If we'd gone down it would have made the job more difficult, so staying up has helped because we'll be more able to recruit players being in Premier One, but I still would have taken it on had we gone down.

"The end of the season proved what we were capable of, and beating Melrose at the Greenyards left a nice taste. I believe that can be the catalyst to go on and do better next year."