CANADIAN international defender Andre Hainault hopes switching to Ross County will give him a taste of fast paced football – and he can’t wait to get started.
After kicking his heels for more than a month while the SPL club sought to gain the required work permit, the former Houston Dynamo wants to play his part in keeping County in the top-flight in this, their debut, season at this level.
Hainault, who has signed until the end of the season, told the NS: “I’ve been here since before Christmas, so it’s nice to now be available to the team.
“I didn’t know what to expect before I arrived. I knew the club had been promoted, but since the first day here things have been fast.
“The games are played at speed, which I love. The biggest factor for me is that the guys have been great. I’m looking forward to getting to know the guys well away from the field, which is important when you come to a new club.
“I knew a bit about the Scottish League before I arrived, the big clubs like Celtic, Rangers and Hearts. I got a run down on what it was like at Ross County and I thought I would give this a try.
“I’ve come here to have a good time, enjoy the experience and become part of the team. Like the rest of the guys, I am here to win and that’s what I’ll be trying to do.”
The 26-year-old has watched with interest as County have beaten Hibs and St Mirren away in January and drawn 1-1 with Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Hainault was on the bench as County won 1-0 at home to Hibs.
He said: “The team have done well on the road in recent weeks. They had a terrific win at Hibs and I watched the game away to St Mirren and then Saturday’s game I saw on replay on BBC Alba – which I, of course, understood what they were talking about!
“It’s been nice to watch the team playing. The results have been good. It helped us jump up one spot in the league (ahead of the midweek Hibs game) and we’re not trying to look up.”
Hainault explained that a switch from his home country to the Czech Republic was good – until corruption kicked in.
He said: “When I was 19 I went over to the Czech Republic for three years. It was a great experience. That’s where I met my wife. There are some beautiful cities, like Prague and in the north of the country. You grow up fast when you move over there at 19 or 20.
“I was with a team, like Ross County, who has just been promoted, called (Banik) Most. Things went well there and then I was loaned out to Sparta Prague. By the end, there was corruption in the game there, so it was time for a move. I’m looking forward to being here where there’s none of that!”
He then moved to Houston and said that team spirit was great there, while the place itself was not as picturesque as the Highlands.
He said: “The chance came up for me in the MLS with Houston. There were a couple of other Canadians there and they said some good things about it. We made a three Conference finals and two MLS Cup finals. I would have liked to have won one, but it was still good.
“I wouldn’t recommend Houston as a city to tourists, but luckily we had a great group of guys and superb coaching staff and that made my four years there well worthwhile.”
Former County and ICT ace, Richard Hastings – now at Highland League club Brora Rangers – was a Gold Cup winner with Canada and Hainault explained that he’s helped him settle in the north of Scotland.
He said: “I was at Richard’s place at the weekend and it’s been good because he’s given me a couple of pointers. He has the experience of playing here, so he’s been a help, although we are different types of players.”
Adams, meanwhile, was delighted to welcome Hainault to Dingwall.
He said: “He’s got a really good pedigree, having played 32 times for Canada, and in the MLS. This gives Andre the chance to look at us and we can look at him.
“He’s a centre back, who can also play on the left. He’s a good talker, a good organiser and he’s a good athlete.”
He added: “Signing players from outside the EU does involve a lot more work in the background to secure the necessary clearance and visas, but this work has now secured us a player who will undoubtedly add to the squad here at Ross County. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the agencies who have been involved in assisting us through the necessary procedures – not just the SFA and the SPL but in this case particularly the UK Border Agency.”
Hainault is the fourth new player to join the Staggies during the January transfer window, joining Ivan Sproule, Evangelos Oikonomou and Steffen Wohlfarth, with seven players having left for pastures new – Colin McMenamin, Mark Corcoran, Steven Craig, Joe Malin, Jonathan Bateson, Kurtis Byrne and Russell Duncan.
County hope to add another new face, most likely a striker, before the window shuts tonight (Thursday).