One of the most experienced players in club rugby has returned after injury, predicting the most competitive Scottish Premiership in years.
Ally Warnock, 30, made a first start for Boroughmuir in a 32-37 home defeat by Currie following summer shoulder surgery and was immediately struck by rising standards.
Warnock, whose 39 professional appearances north of the Border include substituting at stand-off for Chris Paterson when Edinburgh won 32-16 at Ospreys and forming a half-back partnership with Chris Cusiter for Borders against Clermont Auvergne, also in Europe, says: “You just can’t pick who is going to win the title, whereas recently you immediately thought of Melrose.
“Ayr have made a good start with some good signings including the Gossman brothers who carved Boroughmuir up on the opening day, but any side able to get a run of five wins going will be there or thereabouts.
“Not only that, but lining up for Boroughmuir against Currie I was really excited and it wasn’t just that I was starting a match again.
“There were players on the pitch from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s books such as Gregor Hunter, James Johnstone, Dougie Fife, Harry Leonard, Robin Hislop and Steven Turnbull who ran the line-out for Currie. They are all young lads using the Premiership to further their careers.”
After the first month, only Ayr are unbeaten and six points cover the top four clubs.
Warnock added: “When Boroughmuir got quick ball, we were pretty dangerous out wide with Sep Visser developing very well and Damien Hoyland really coming into his own and learning every week.
“The Currie match was the best I’d seen of Jamie Swanson, who was dangerous off the back of the scrum and he helped us to get 15-12 ahead without having had much possession.
“Once we start putting a couple of phases together we’ll challenge and, really, Currie are a pretty solid side this season.”
Warnock also looks forward to drawing on summer Olympic experiences. He said: “I work in the marketing department at Standard Life whose sponsorship of basketball took me to London 2012 and also to Manchester where I watched America’s NBA dream team play a warm-up.
“Having played professional sport myself, there is always some insight you can pick up and pass on and I’m looking forward to do what I can to help the youngsters come through at Boroughmuir.”
Indeed, there is something of a Boroughmuir conveyor belt having contributed six to the latest Scotland under-20s with Damien Hoyland a stick-on for the 2012-13 crop.