Onwards and upwards for Michael Maltman and Musselburgh

Former Heriot's, Moseley and Scotland 7s star is back where it all began and plans to help Musselburgh flourish in Premiership

Michael Maltman
Michael Maltman leads the charge for Musselburgh. Image: John Williamson

by COLIN RENTON

IT has been a tough start to life in the Tennent’s Premiership for Musselburgh. But Graeme Paterson’s men are ready to roll up their sleeves in the pursuit of league points. And, in the shape of Michael Maltman, the coach has the ideal on-field deputy to achieve that objective.

Maltman’s return to Musselburgh last season meant he had travelled full circle. The club where he learned the game was the flanker’s latest jumping off point on a rugby journey that has included spells in the professional ranks and as a contracted sevens player.

He featured in an outstanding group of colts that reached the national youth finals four times and included front-rowers Alun Walker and Craig Owenson who, like Maltman, went on to become internationals at age group level.


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“I played all my midis rugby here and went away to Heriot’s for age grade for a couple of years,” Maltman explains. “Heriot’s and Musselburgh have always had a link.”

Indeed, Owenson also went there, with the duo following a path that had seen others move from Stoneyhill to pursue higher level rugby – Donald MacDonald and Grant Talac are among those who have also taken that route.

Maltman’s performances for Heriot’s caught the attention of a wider audience and the English Championship beckoned, with a two-year contract on offer at Moseley. That was followed by a similar period with the Scotland 7s squad and a chance to play on the global circuit.

He then opted out of full-time rugby to start a new job and return to the club game, again turning out for Heriot’s, where he shared in the 2014 Scottish Cup victory, before signing up once more at Musselburgh.

However, Phil Smith, the coach at Heriot’s, believed the powerful flanker could still do a job in the Premiership and encouraged him to have another spell with the Goldenacre outfit during 2017-18. Then, with Musselburgh targeting a place in this year’s revamped Premiership, Maltman re-joined his home club last season and played a key role in securing a return to the top flight after an absence of three decades.

Blending youth with experience

Now, although only 29-years-old, Maltman believes his accumulated experience will be an important element in helping shake off the losing habit, as well as aiding the club’s rising stars as they continue their progress.

“I’m a senior head. We’ve got some boys who have come through and who are looking good individually,” he says, before pointing out that he is in good company when it comes to passing on established knowledge, “I think there are five or six of us from my initial colts year. Some moved away, like Craig Owenson who also went to Heriot’s then came back. Meanwhile, William Fleming has been 10 years in the seniors and is about to get his 200th cap.”

Of the emerging talent, he adds: “We have the likes of Tom Foley and Gregor Tait coming up, and Kyle McGhie who had an amazing season for us last season and is now looking to move on to bigger things with Boroughmuir in Super6.

“So it’s good for us as a club and as a group of players to help these boys if they have ambitions of taking it to the next step.

“As I get older, I have more of a mentor role for these younger boys who are fitter, faster and try to get their game sense up, and also that kind of edge around senior rugby that some boys coming out of colts might never have experienced.”

Michael Maltman
Maltman is back where it all began at Stoenyhill after spells with Heriot’s, Moseley and Scotland 7s.
Image: John Williamson

As captain of the Stoneyhill side, he has led by example over the opening weeks of the Premiership campaign. However, while Musselburgh have offered occasional glimpses of the form that earned them promotion to the top ten, a full 80 minute performance has proved elusive. Defeats in each of the three opening fixtures have left them propping up the table.

For Maltman, the focus is firmly on securing that maiden victory. His personal work ethic remains strong, although he does admit that, having been a full-timer, combining rugby with work can be tricky.

“It’s interesting as you get older, that work/life balance … I still find it hard,” he says. “I’ve got the mentality of wanting to be professional and try my best and give it my all. I may not necessarily be able to commit as fully, but I still have those standards.”

Few who have witnessed his contributions in the early games will have noticed any significant drop off in his fitness or commitment. A massive tackle tally in the league opener against Hawick proved that Maltman still has much to offer and is a superb role model for his younger colleagues.

He will lead the side away to Glasgow Hawks this weekend, looking for a repeat of the performance that delivered a win in the cup tie between the two earlier in the season.

*Note: Maltman has been forced to withdraw from the squad for the match versus Hawks due to a hand injury.


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About Colin Renton 288 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!