Rugby: New role sees Paterson take wish list on his Kiwi crusade

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Chris Paterson will take with him a “wish list” from former Edinburgh team-mates when he sets off on Saturday for a five-week sojourn in New Zealand as part of a freshly appointed coaching and ambassadorial role within Scottish Rugby.

The 34-year-old, pictured, intends to make a seamless transition from playing helped by a Macphail Scholarship to study methods at renowned Canterbury Crusaders and his proposed adventure has been quick to attract attention in the Edinburgh dressing-room.

Not only will there be good wishes to pass on to former Gunners Todd Blackadder and Dave Hewitt, now on the Crusaders staff, but Paterson says: “Some of the (Edinburgh) players have already been asking ‘find out what this player, or that player, does that is special’ – both on the pitch and in the gym.”

But how much of a gamble, if any, is the 109-times capped Paterson taking, having retired from playing only last Saturday by not withdrawing temporarily from rugby to take stock of his achievements and future plans?

“A year out is not really my style because I am the sort of person who wants to get on with things. It helps that I will still be working within the same organisation and rugby is a passion.

“Retiring can never be easy but getting out at the right time and continuing in similar surroundings has helped. But I admit it will be wholly different from playing. I just hope the ambassadorial role can help inspire people to get involved in rugby and also the specialist coaching task can help players improve skills like kicking, counter attacking etc.

“Since my retirement from international rugby in December I had been looking at options, I would be foolish to walk out without anything lined up. But in all honesty I didn’t make my decision until two weeks ago that I was going to retire from club rugby. I wanted to give myself a bit of time to make sure it was the right decision.”

How much did it help that Paterson, pictured below, had his post-playing future secured in advance of his swansong – a try-scoring sign-off in Edinburgh’s concluding league win over Treviso?

“My two-year contract was about to elapse with another year option available. For the past few weeks Scottish Rugby and I have been working together (on the role),” he said.

What cannot be ignored is the fact that great players do not always make outstanding coaches and to his credit Paterson does not shirk from that realisation, intending to draw on the instincts that initially took him into a PE teaching course.

“Over the years I have kept quite a few notes from the coaching sessions I have been involved in, things I have enjoyed doing that might later prove beneficial as well as analysis that has provided insight.

“Also, I’ve spoken regularly with Gregor Townsend who I followed up the playing ladder from school into playing with Gala and Scotland and hopefully into coaching as well.

“Whatever I’m doing I am going to do the best I can and work from the bottom up learning new skills and applying them with the knowledge I have been lucky enough to pick up.”

With Paterson, as always, there isn’t a hint of complacency or over-confidence. Just an intrinsic humility. But one thing is bothering him as he prepares to set off for new horizons.

“Finding those coaching notes I took might involve turning the contents of my garage inside out,” he laughs, adding: “and ahead of a trip to New Zealand I think this might be a good time to invest in a new note pad as I intend to pick up as many skills as possible then start applying them when I come back.”