THE return of Huw Jones was one of the few positives to emerge from Glasgow’s opening Champions Cup loss to Northampton Saints.
The Scotland centre picked up a foot injury against Connacht in October that required careful management and treatment before he was deemed fit enough to contribute on the field.
Seeing the former Harlequins man return to the fray would have served as a relief both to Franco Smith, the Glasgow head coach, and his counterpart at Scotland, Gregor Townsend, with the Six Nations looming on the horizon.
Jones, though, admits it is something he will need to carefully manage in the weeks and months ahead, joking that, beyond the opening match of the season, no rugby player can ever be considered fully fit.
“You never want to be just sitting on the sidelines so it was nice to come back from injury,” he said. “Obviously the game didn’t go to plan but it was good to be playing again.
“The umbrella term for the injury is turf toe but there’s a lot of different things going on. They call it a first MTP strain. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is except it’s sore! It took a couple of weeks to settle down and then I had to build up strength again.
“Foot injuries can always take a while and it’s still sore when you’re back but you just need to manage it. I don’t think anyone’s ever 100 percent fit in rugby. Everyone’s always carrying little knocks. You just manage the best you can. Maybe the first week of the season is the only time you run out with no strapping!
“The good thing about a short-term injury is you get a bit of a rest. Recovery is huge in a long season. There’s ongoing strengthening and rehab with my foot and that will carry on for a while. But you get to a point where you’re fit enough to train and play – I’m at that point.”
Glasgow will need every player to be fully firing if they are to belatedly kickstart their Champions Cup campaign away to Bayonne on Friday night.
For all Warriors have had plenty of pats on the back for their undoubted progression under Smith over the past 18 months, Jones was honest enough to admit that they have still achieved nothing yet.
Losing to Saints was the third time this year that Glasgow have lost a crucial match if you count the URC quarter-final exit to Munster and the Challenge Cup defeat to Toulon, and the former Stormer knows the big teams find a way to succeed in these situations.
“People talk about us having a pretty good season last year but we didn’t win anything,” he added. “We didn’t win the Challenge Cup when we could have announced ourselves in that.
“We were kind of dominated by Toulon in the final and didn’t show up for that game. And we didn’t reach the final or semi-final of the URC – so it’s not just the Champions Cup.
“We had some good wins but we came out with nothing to show for it. If we think we’re a team who should be making it to finals we have to be proving that against the best teams.
“You look at the URC and we should be in the play-offs come the end of the season. We were last year but didn’t perform here in the quarter-final.
“With the Champions Cup you have to almost win all of your games as it’s a really tough competition with the top teams in Europe. There will be teams with bigger budgets and squads but you have to compete against them if you want to claim to be a top team.
“It would be nice to go far in the competition but we have to go out and prove that in the early stages. We just need to get straight back to work and go down to France to play another good side.”