New Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson looking forward to upcoming Scottish Premiership rugby season

Selkirk have appointed Gordon Henderson as their new head coach ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Premiership rugby season.
New Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)New Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)
New Selkirk head coach Gordon Henderson (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)

The 58-year-old has previously coached at clubs including National League Division 1’s Biggar and semi-professional side Boroughmuir Bears but hasn’t been in charge before and that’s a challenge he’s relishing.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “I wanted to carry on coaching and I wanted to be a head coach and the premiership is a league I want to coach in.

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“I’ve coached at probably every level of the club game in Scotland and I’ve done 14 campaigns nationally, with the under-16s, under-17s, under-18s, the Scotland club side and Scotland women.

Scotland club XV assistant coach Gordon Henderson watching his side playing Ireland at Netherdale in Galashiels in February 2015 (Pic: SNS Group/SRU/Bill Murray)Scotland club XV assistant coach Gordon Henderson watching his side playing Ireland at Netherdale in Galashiels in February 2015 (Pic: SNS Group/SRU/Bill Murray)
Scotland club XV assistant coach Gordon Henderson watching his side playing Ireland at Netherdale in Galashiels in February 2015 (Pic: SNS Group/SRU/Bill Murray)

“I’ve been at a few clubs now as an assistant coach and I’ve got a lot of experience over a number of years and I’d been really keen on getting this kind of role and getting back into the premiership.

“We’ve got an opportunity to play an exciting brand of rugby. Selkirk’s history tells you that.

“Hopefully we can enhance and develop that game.

“They play a fast, offloading-type game and that’s how I want them to play, and with the new tackle-height laws coming in, there’ll potentially be more offload opportunities.

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“It’ll be interesting to see how that goes for all the teams over the first few weeks of the season.

“It’s potentially an opportunity to change the way we attack.”

Though from East Lothian and having spent all his playing career at Preston Lodge, Henderson, now retired but formerly an operator technician for energy firm EDF, is no stranger to Borders rugby, having been forwards coach for Melrose title-winner Graham Shiel at Boroughmuir and accompanied him back to the Greenyards to take on Southern Knights in what was then the Fosroc Super6 Championship, as well as coaching at Hawick.

He’s also helped coach the Souters’ Luke Pettie and Josh Welsh in Scottish age-grade sides in years gone by.

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Henderson’s looking forward to returning to the region, saying: “The Borders has got a lot of rugby communities and Selkirk’s is a really tight-knit one.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for the place at the moment by talking to people as I’ve only just got my foot in the door so I think I’ll need them more than they need me right away.

“They’ve got a good mix of seasoned premiership players vital to the club because of that experience and youth coming through the ranks.”

Henderson will be backed up at Philiphaugh by current coaches Michael Jaffray, Darren Clapperton and James Head.

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He’s hoping they can improve on the fifth-placed finish achieved by Selkirk last time round, with 46 points from 18 fixtures, saying: “Of course we’ll be looking to do better. That’s my goal.

“What else would be looking to do?”

The new gaffer is hoping to add an extra night’s training to his new players’ weekly schedule initially to boost their fitness ahead of the start of the new season at home to Currie Chieftains on Saturday, September 2, at 3pm.

“We’re hoping to get off to a good start in pre-season and I’m hoping to get a buy-in to start training an extra night for the first few weeks just to build up fitness and strength in the gym and then go on to develop skills,” he said.

“That’ll give us a wee bit of extra time and they’ve got really good facilities at Selkirk so we need to utilise them.

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“It’d be good to try to get to three nights’ training a week just for the first few weeks so we can cement their fitness and power to help us get off to a good start to the season.

“We’ll need to get the players’ buy-in for that but the senior players I’ve spoken to seem pretty keen.

“I’m really excited about having a look at all the players to see where we are and we’ll just take it from there. I’m really looking forward to pre-season.”

Henderson, nicknamed Sesh, is also relishing the prospect of the abundance of derbies the premiership will have to offer next season, Kelso having joined its ten teams alongside Selkirk, Jed-Forest and champions Hawick.

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“I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be exciting,” he said.

“I’ve already been involved at Hawick in derbies against Gala at the time and Selkirk, and they were hard, hard games – very physical but enjoyable as well.”

Selkirk had been the Borders’ first team to confirm a new coaching team for the coming season, with Jaffray, Head and Craig Jackson announced back in February as being set to share coaching duties equally following previous gaffer Scott Wight’s departure to assist Alan Tait at Fosroc Super Series Championship side Southern Knights in April, but former Knights captain Jackson’s exit for a player-coach role at Stirling Wolves forced them into a rethink, leading to Henderson’s arrival.