Heriot’s new recruit Roan van Heerden cannot wait to start training with his new team-mates, with the South African keen to use his experience to help the Goldenacre club to more glory in 2015/16.
They always say that teams should recruit when they are on a high – and the Heriot’s coaching duo of Phil Smith and Steve Lawrie wasted no time in adding new faces after last season’s BT Premiership success.
Last week they announced ten new players that will be turning out for them come August and 30-year-old Van Heerden will certainly strengthen an already solid pack.
Having been schooled in Johannesburg, Van Heerden travelled to Scotland as a young man and worked for a while in Peebles before joining the British Army.
As part of the Royal Scots he was based in Edinburgh and it was during that time that his rugby started to take off.
“I started playing for the various Army teams at sevens and 15s and was picked to play for the Combined Services at under-23 level,” Van Heerden told the Evening News.
“I was based in Edinburgh for over five years and I loved the place, so I guess I was always keen to try and come back sometime if the opportunity arose.”
Van Heerden left the Army in 2009 and headed back to South Africa, while a torn anterior cruciate ligament put him out of action for some time around the same period.
Back home, Van Heerden began to study at North West University and at the time he also resumed his rugby career.
He said: “I was then given the chance to train with the Leopards while I was studying and I was lucky enough to play for them in the Currie Cup and the Vodacom Cup for two years.
“The standard was by far the highest I had played at, but I loved testing myself against some top quality operators and as a second-row you had to learn quickly.”
By the time early 2014 came around, Van Heerden was keen to complete his Masters overseas as well as playing rugby and in January of that year he was picked up by Coventry.
He went on to spend a season-and-a-half with the Midlands outfit – as well as getting married a year ago – and in 2014/15 Coventry were third in English National League One, finishing just behind Rosslyn Park and champions Ealing Trailfinders.
“I loved my time at Coventry,” he said. “It was a good standard of rugby and the guys in the team were a great bunch, but myself and my wife were keen to settle down somewhere and we thought Edinburgh would be a great option.”
“I had heard that Heriot’s had had a good season, so it was great to be able to sort something out and join the club ahead of 2015/16.
“I have already done quite a bit of fitness work with a lot of the guys and what has impressed me has been the team spirit in the group. Everyone is good friends and there is a good dynamic, so hopefully we can have another strong year.”
Van Heerden and his wife are currently busy sorting out a place to live and jobs, but he has been in the gym with his new team-mates and he got a run-out during the Edinburgh 10s at the start of the month.
He concluded: “We have meetings in the coming weeks and it will be interesting to see what kind of role the coaches want me to have. Hopefully I can bring my experience to the group and help Heriot’s out.”