New Edinburgh Rugby signing Damien Hoyland insists he is looking forward to helping put a smile on the face of the oval-ball game once again.
The 20-year-old winger has caught the eye after scoring six tries in just 11 appearances for Scotland Under-20s and was recommended to Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons by various scouts and coaches. He has signed a two-year deal and is also keen to build on the experience of travelling to and preparing for a RaboDirect Pro 12 game earlier this season.
“It hasn’t been the best of times,” admitted Hoyland, aware that results across the board at Six Nations level have been poor. “Being offered a deal by Edinburgh has helped me deal with the Under-20s getting pumped by England at the weekend.” However, he provided an insight to forward planning that may hint of better times ahead, adding: “Edinburgh took me along as 24th man to the match in Ulster last Autumn and that helped reinforce what I wanted to do – as if I needed any convincing.
“I got out on the pitch beforehand to warm up and being in the dressing-room before and after the game showed me some of the good habits I am keen to acquire.”
An immediate rugby future appears well mapped out for the former James Gillespie’s High pupil, whose early years were spent playing at the Boroughmuir club.
He said: “We are in the middle of the Scotland Under-20 campaign and that has to have my total focus. But this summer there are world championships in New Zealand and if selected that will be a huge opportunity to experience rugby there.
“Then, on returning, I can get straight down to work with an Edinburgh team I began following almost as soon I got interested in the game, mainly through watching an older brother, Darren, play.
“My dad had also been involved in the game so it was pretty natural to go along to Boroughmuir with friends.
“There I had the experience of playing on Murrayfield in an under-16 cup final and I was given a big break last season when called into the club first team for virtually every match apart from when I was with the Scotland Under-20s.”
Relegation led to Damien being advised to seek out Premiership rugby and Melrose came to his aid. “I love everything about playing with Melrose but Boroughmuir were also very good to me. About the only good thing about ’Muir being relegated was the fact there was no chance of having to score a try against them. That would have been awful considering the help I received from coaches such as Fergus Pringle and David Officer.
“One of the highlights last year was playing Melrose sevens with Boroughmuir and I can only imagine what it will be like if chosen to represent the host club this Spring.”
Now in his second year at under-20 level, Hoyland added: “It is a bit different this year in that I am one of five or six players returning for a second season under coach Sean Lineen.
“I maybe feel a bit more comfortable in the set-up but at the same time as trying my hardest I have to guard against trying too hard. We currently have a week off but there is still time to head for the gym.”
Hoyland, who is renowned for blistering pace, now has a new, unfulfilled ambition having achieved his contract.
“I really would like to get down to being timed over 50 or 100 metres because I have no idea how fast I am. I’ve always left that to others to decide.
“There was a time when I thought about getting into athletics but it just never happened mainly because I have been absorbed in rugby from the very start!”
Such a go-for-it approach will surely stand Damien in good stead – and hopefully help resurrect some much dampened spirits for followers in general.