For McLennan, it’s ‘the love of the game’

Nick McLennan and partner Katie Scannell in Europe while playing overseas.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Nick McLennan and partner Katie Scannell in Europe while playing overseas.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Players can get to the professional level, chase the dollar and live the dream. But for some, it is all about playing with your mates and having fun. The Otago Daily Times talks to a couple of veterans set to play club finals in Otago today. 

From big stadiums to a final in front of seemingly one man and a dog in Oamaru today.

Nick McLennan will go back to grassroots today after nearly a decade of playing the 15 man game around the world.

The 32-year-old former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil has had quite the rugby career. He represented Scotland in rugby sevens and played professionally in Russia and France and for Hawke’s Bay in the ITM Cup.

McLennan and his partner, former St Kevin’s College pupil Katie Scannell, moved back to New Zealand from France in October.

He thought that would mark the end of his rugby playing days, but in a moment of weakness after a few beers with brother-in-law Robbie Smith, he decided to play for Maheno in this year’s Citizens Shield competition.

"It’s really cool just to play for the love of the game, like it used to be like when you are in high school," McLennan said.

"It’s a good bunch of boys who play hard but love having a few beers as well. No-one has any ego."

He loved his career as a professional rugby player, but said it could be very mentally and physically draining.

Now working as the South Canterbury regional manager for property maintenance company K South, McLennan is starting his life after rugby —and he is enjoying it.

McLennan left school and went to Lincoln University to join the Canterbury Rugby Academy.

Alongside future All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Codie Taylor, McLennan worked hard but could not crack the Canterbury squad.

He played a season in Russia, for Krasny Yar, and then moved to Hawke’s Bay for two seasons.

From there, he was recruited to play for Pro14 team Edinburgh, at a time when the Scottish Rugby Union was recruiting eligible players for its national side. McLennan was eligible for selection through his Scottish grandparents.

In 2015, he was selected for the Scotland rugby sevens team which competed in the World Series. He travelled all over the world for tournaments from December through to June.

After finishing the season in Scotland in 2018, he took up a contract with Stade Nicois in the south of France. The rugby was not brilliant but the lifestyle was great.

Today, he will line up for Maheno as it takes on Valley in the North Otago club final. After that, retirement beckons, perhaps.

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