AS the only currently injured member of Gregor Townsend’s World Cup training camp, it fell upon Fraser Brown to represent the squad at yesterday’s press call at Murrayfield to launch the new commercial partnership between the SRU and Johnnie Walker whisky.
We all knew that he would rather be a few miles further west of Edinburgh city centre at Oriam sports performance centre training with his pals, but as that isn’t an option until he recovers from the foot ligament surgery he recently undertook, this was a decent diversion from the gentle jibing of his team-mates and the long, lonely hours of rehab.
“There’s not many people who go through the whole pre-season without an injury, but it’s just me at the moment, so I’m the butt of the jokes because I come in every day and not do too much compared to the other guys,” he smiles.
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Of course, the truth of the matter – as his team-mates well know – is that he isn’t taking it easy at all. Brown is not the type of character to sit back and take a breather just because he can’t get through a full contact session, and with the World Cup now just two months away he is doing everything in his power to make sure that he is in the best physical condition of his career by the time the foot has healed.
His focus and determination, not to mention his track record of making speedy returns after lengthy lay-offs, are the reasons why Townsend has not felt the need to call-up another hooker as back-up in case Brown doesn’t make it, and has stated that he will happily select the 30-year-old for the trip even if he doesn’t manage to get some game-time during Scotland’s World Cup warm-up matches.
“It is not the case anymore that if you have a foot injury you are out for six weeks doing nothing,” explains Brown. “We are in every single day – whether it is upper-body conditioning, weights, rehab and son on – so they get you in the best possible place meaning that when you are fit to return you are fit to return playing rather than taking three or four weeks to get to that standard.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 12)
“I should be fresher, to be honest. I won’t have other things like shoulder niggles. Guys who have breaks mid-season through injury tend to finish strongly because they had time to get over things and come back fresher. So, it can be a bit of a blessing.
“If I was ready to play in any of the warm-up games it would be nice but, at the moment, I am taking it week by week,” he adds. “As we get further into the summer, it will be a case of seeing where we are and going on from there.
“Gregor has not put any extra burden on me at this stage and it is a case of me doing my rehab and seeing how I get on. The target for me is to be there or thereabouts for the last couple of warm-up games.
“I’ve been to Japan twice before. My Under-20s World Cup was in Japan and then I was there in 2016. I’m looking forward to going back,” added Brown, who will travel to Portugal with the squad on Saturday for an eight-day training camp.