Big Nathan Hines has announced his retirement from International Rugby, making the game he played against England in the World Cup at Eden Park his last in Scotland colours. A stalwart of Scottish rugby, Nathan combined a vibrant offloading game with a “rugged” streak that often found him in the role of on-field enforcer dishing out a bit of street justice, like someone took Chuck Norris and put him in Willy Wonka’s gum stretching machine.
It never did him any real harm though in a career that took him from Wagga Wagga in Australia to Galashiels (only for 6 months, initially), Edinburgh, Perpignan, Dublin and Clermont where he currently plays. Along the way he picked up 77 caps, test victories against all of the major nations bar New Zealand, British and Irish Lions selection and a Heineken Cup win, which sadly few of the current crop will be able to claim on their retirement. He picked up the odd card too.
His absence leaves a slot in the Scotland lock pool up for grabs though, with Hamilton, Gray and Kellock now the three incumbents in a travelling squad that usually has four. Scott Macleod leaving for Japan guaranteed Hamilton his slot as the fourth man which he grasped firmly, and now Hines has left he has been promoted, and was possibly even the stand-out partner for Gray during the World Cup. Murray always seems to perform better in the scrum with Hamilton behind him too. Could there be a change of Scotland captain on the cards now that Kellock is not guaranteed a place? You also suspect that Fraser McKenzie, Sale Shark’s sometime second row enforcer (who may be packing down with Richie Gray next season or competing for the no. 4 shirt) just pricked up his ears a little. Interesting times for the second row.
Whatever happens in the world of Scottish Rugby going forward, for now we wish Nathan and his family all the best for the future.