HAWICK STEP UP HUNT FOR COACH

Hawick hope to move quickly to replace coach Nikki Walker
Hawick hope to move quickly to replace coach Nikki Walker

Hawick RFC president John Thorburn is aiming for a quick head coaching appointment after the surprising announcement that Nikki Walker will depart at the end of the season.

As the final whistle rang out at the Greenyards on Saturday, marking the end of a miserable 34-7 defeat by Melrose that consigned the Greens to a relegation play-off and difficult 2016/17 league season, so too did it signify the end of the road for Greens head coach Walker.

The former Edinburgh, Ospreys and Scotland star announced Sunday morning in a surprising turn that he would be stepping down as head coach of the Robbie Dyes after three years at the helm.

“We had had a couple of informal conversations with Nikki over the past few weeks to discuss what his plans for next season was and he indicated neither one way or the other about what his plans were but that open dialog helped everyone,” said Thorburn this week.

“We were keen to know as soon as possible what his plans were as we couldn’t wait until April to get this process going so he let us know and now it’s about us making sure we find the right person to replace him.

“We had our first meeting on Monday about what the next steps are and starting the formal process of getting a new coach in.

“The hope is to get someone in quickly as we can’t be searching for someone in April time.”

Replacing Phil Leck at the end of the 2013/14 season, Hawick-raised Walker helped lead the club to Border League glory, runners up in the BT National Cup, to the cusp of the title play-offs and remain a BT Premiership club in his three-year tenure.

The 2016/17 season hasn’t been as enjoyable with the Robbie Dyes facing relegation for much of the season before righting themselves to earn an April relegation play-off place against the runners-up in BT National 1.

Current Teri assistant coach and Newcastle Falcons lock Scott MacLeod would be the logical replacement with his local ties to the club and extensive experience as both player and coach, but Hawick will be casting a wide net in their recruitment process according to Thorburn. “We will be a blank sheet of paper in terms of where we will be looking,” added Throburn.

“Open end to end, not restricting ourselves to any area.

“It is a busy time of the year now with players moving and clubs changing coaches so we will be very proactive to trying to get someone on board quickly so planning for next season can start.” Walker will remain head coach until the conclusion of the sevens season and the Greens’ relegation play-off game.