It seems a slightly incongruous career move for the 6ft 4in, 115kg flanker who is expected to return to action for his club in Friday’s pre-season friendly against Benetton in Treviso. But Haining says he’s always had a hankering to start his own business.
“I didn’t know what sort of capacity that was going to be, and it was during lockdown when my partner Efia was pregnant with our little one, and we spent a lot of time up at the Harlaw reservoir,” he explains.
“Efia has got a real passion for baby clothing and the like, and I really wanted to start my own business, so we put the two things together and came up with Harlaw, which is a boutique for minimalist, neutral children’s clothing.
“We’ve been going for two and a half months now and it’s going really, really well. We’re really happy with it. We’ve got our autumn stock coming in on October 4.
“We design the majority of it, we send it off to get manufactured overseas and then bring it in to sell, so it is all custom made.”
Having been out since February, Haining has been due to return against London Scottish last week only to pick up a knee knock in training. It’s been a frustrating few months for the player who said that working on the clothes business was a welcome diversion from the slog of rehab.
“It has been really beneficial. Especially when I was injured and during lockdown, to have something to focus on during those tough periods, it has just given me something to focus on.”
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Haining’s recovery with those of Edinburgh’s other back-row titans Jamie Ritchie and Bill Mata. Ritchie made his comeback from a hamstring injury in last Friday’s disappointing home defeat by London Scottish while Mata’s recovery from a knee issue is now complete.
It was shoulder problems which sidelined Haining – on both sides. He was injured while playing for Scotland against France in the Six Nations in February and then went under the knife to repair a long-standing issue on the other side.
“That was actually my good shoulder [I injured] against France, but this was something I had carried for quite a while now, but we’d missed it a few times on scans and such like,” he explained. “But it’s sorted now so it’s feeling good and I’m pretty confident with it now.”
Given the club’s surfeit of back-row resources Haining knows he faces a fight to regain his place but he’s up for the challenge and looking forward to when the competitive against begins, at home to the Dragons on Saturday week.
“We’ve got depth throughout the back-row, especially with the young lads like Connor Boyle and Ben Muncaster stepping up last season,” he said. “They have been really impressive during pre-season so I know how hard it is going to be, but that’s what you need to keep us all on our toes. When you do get your chance you know you have to perform otherwise you are not going to get that spot.”