SEEMINGLY innocuous damage sustained in a club match last September has finally accounted for the career of Edinburgh Rugby professional Steve Turnbull.
The second row damaged knee ligaments playing for Currie at Boroughmuir in the Premiership. The injury, suffered in a match which was part of a comeback plan for the 26-year-old, was initially downplayed. However, time has not proved a healer on this occasion and the man whose rugby cv includes 48 outings for Edinburgh highlighted by a substitute appearance in the Heineken European Cup semi-final against Ulster in Dublin last year, is looking to the future by setting up the Pro’sLife Rugby Academy in conjunction with another ex-Edinburgh player whose career has been blighted by knocks, James King.
“One of the many things I learned about the pro game is that your life can be turned out in a fraction of a second,” said Turnbull.
“In my case, I still felt I had a lot to give on the playing front having signed a contract extension in 2011 but the injury I picked up at Meggetland was one too many and it came to the point where my body couldn’t handle the collisions any longer.
“It took a week or two to come to terms with not being able to play again then I accepted I could look back on some unbelievable experiences.
“After that, it was a case of fast-forwarding a coaching programme James and I had planned to set up at some stage in the future.
“Throughout my treatment, I was given every support to try to pull through and return to playing while Red Sky Management did a lot to help me look beyond playing days but it comes to every sportsman at some stage and I was no different.”
A large part of Turnbull’s rugby education was that Euro semi which Edinburgh lost 22-19 although his debut had actually come six years earlier only for a series of injury breaks occuring to prevent potential being truly fulfilled.
“I’m convinced that if that semi had continued for a further five minutes we’d have beaten Ulster and gone on to play in the final,” he said, adding: “Jim Thompson had just scored a try in the closing moments and we had Ulster on the back foot but it wasn’t to be.”
A week later, Turnbull, who had replaced Grant Gilchrist in the semi-final, returned to Murrayfield for the concluding Rabo Direct League clash with Treviso not knowing that it would be the last time he’d pull on the Edinburgh shirt first worn as a 19-year-old. “Of all the players I faced, the most difficult was Paul O’Connell of Munster with his all-round game but, when I joined Edinburgh as an apprentice, Al Kellock hadn’t yet moved across to Glasgow and he was a big help.
“On the coaching front, I learned from two World Cup winners in Andy Robinson and Neil Back while Rob Moffat (ex Edinburgh) is someone I still speak with.”
A member of the Scotland A side at the 2011 Nations Cup in Romania under Sean Lineen’s guidance and capped at every age group level, Turnbull will seek to incorporate the teachings of his mentors while emphasising other aspects of rugby.
“James and I have made a decision to restrict the numbers at our courses to 50 so as to give more individual attention and there will be an accent on achieving a healthy lifestyle and passing on all the things that are form part of everyday life as a professional.
“Through being at Edinburgh I had the opportunity to do bits and bobs of coaching at grassroots level and it took me back to when I pitched up at Stirling County, aged 11, with some pals.”
Until then Turnbull had been a promising tennis player occasionally hitting in Dunblane with his school-mate, one Andy Murray.
“You could tell, even away back then, that Andy was going to be something special” he said.
As for Turnbull, though, it is one of his sporting aims just to get back on court.
“I was a decent junior player until rugby took over and there should be no reason why I can’t get back involved to some extent.
“It is the contact element that rules me out of rugby but, for the moment, all the focus is on getting involved in coaching.”
• PRO’SLIFE RUGBY CAMPS include Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, from July 15-17 (13-15 year olds) and July 18-20 (10-12 year olds). For further details see: www.proslife.co.uk
• MURRAYFIELD Wanderers have appointed ex-Currie centre David Wilson as their new coach. Wilson’s cv includes assisting Glasgow Hawks in the Premiership as well as Dalziel and Glasgow Accies. Jamie MacFarlane had to turn down the post for family reasons two days after being appointed.