Lanster furthers his learning at Sunnyside

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New Falkirk coach Paul Larter is starting a sporting education, in more ways than one, after taking over the reins at Sunnyside.

The 29-year-old took his first pre-season training sessions on Tuesday as the head coach - replacing Mark McKenzie who will focus on his Elite Sporting Performance scheme detailed in The Falkirk Herald in March.

But Lanster’s new role isn’t his only new sporting challenge, he’s taken on a university course that will link perfectly with his rugby at Cala Park.

“I left my sales job, it just wasn’t what I was wanting to do, and have enrolled in a sports coaching degree at university.

“It’ll run alongside the rugby perfectly. I’ve also enrolled in the coaching course level three at Murrayfield to take this area of my game a step further.”

Lanster has been cramming as much information about Falkirk as possible, swotting up on the team, players and set-up with assistant coach Niall Lear, club captain Will Hanson and long-time member Alex Ronnay to give him a running start this week.

Indeed it was a chat with the club’s Alex Ronnay that helped him get the job.

“I’d seen it advertised on the SRU website and gave the club a call just to find out a little more about the job and what was expected. I liked what I heard and thought I’d be capable so handed my CV in. After the interview, I got the job - and it’s a great opportunity for me.

“I’ve met Niall Lear and clued up on the club, thanks to him. He’ll do the backs, and I’ll deal with the forwards.

“Conversations with him have been fantastic. I get the real feeling ideas are being shared and we’ll work well together. It’s all fairly straight forward, we’ve agreed on most things but on the areas we haven’t we’ve discussed them and made a mutual decision. We’re in agreement with a lot of the areas of the game and there’s been a consensus

“I’ve also spoken to Will Hanson the club captain that’s given me an understanding of the players and areas to improve and work on.

“The seconds are training with the first team, but we’re all one club and one big team - that’s what I want to get across.”

The new coach comes with a playing background at Biggar and Livingston, and a coaching experience in Edinburgh Northern - several levels below Falkirk in the East Region division two.

“It’s a big step-up and I feel I’m capable. I was at Biggar then Livingston and had a few injuries. I had a broken collarbone in 2010 and came back and thought about playing again with Edinburgh Northern - it was tempting but I had to retire when had to get a couple of my neck bones fused and I had to be realistic.”

His playing career started at George Watson’s College but a rugby scholarship took him south.... to the southern hemisphere.

“I played in South Africa, which was a fantastic opportunity. Playing and coaching was fantastic. I went out as a 17-year-old just fresh from school and came back a totally different person.

“I got off the plane on the Wednesday and was in for training on Thursday against what can only be described as muscle men and the rugby was a whole new game. It was completely life-changing.”

Now he has another change in direction in his rugby career, taking on uni and Cala Park.

“ I only ever played against Falkirk a couple of times - I’m fairly sure it was a heavy defeat while I was at Livingston that sticks out in my mind but they’re a team you notice when looking through the leagues. In recent years they had almost always been at the top end so you’re picking up on the name, position and results.

“It’s been everything I expected and more. “There are a few decent prospects in the youth ranks and they’ll be involved and I’ll be looking to bring them on - Logan at no.10 especially.

“It all looks pretty sharp. There’s a fantastic youth set-up. This’ll be the first year with under-18s coming through. It’s a fanatstic little set-up when I’ve seen it.”