THIS time last year, Scott Cummings sustained an injury that ruled him out of action for six months. Now, not only has the Glasgow Warriors lock long since recovered from that dislocated shoulder, he is also fitter than ever, a year older and wiser, and ready to make a big impact on the PRO14.
Sidelined by his injury, Cummings could only sit at home and watch on TV as his team-mates travelled to Connacht for the first league game of last season – a game they won by a convincing margin. As the Warriors prepare to make the same trip to get this season under way, the 20-year-old lock looks set to be an integral part of proceedings, and not just for this opening fixture either.
The wrist surgery that will keep Jonny Gray out of action for another couple of months or so may be one reason why Cummings is likely to feature so strongly in Warriors squads, but the real explanation is the increasingly fine form shown by the age-group internationalist himself. We were given a glimpse of that down in Wales last weekend, when Cummings got on the end of a Lelia Masaga burst to score in his team’s 40-23 win over the Dragons, and, while the forward downplayed his own contribution to the try, he was happy to admit that he feels in excellent shape ahead of the new campaign.
“I only just made it to that line,” he claimed. “I just had to support The Flash’s [Masaga] amazing run, to be honest. Obviously, playing that expansive game, you’ll find bigger guys out in wider areas from time to time.
“We’re all really fit after pre-season. The S&C team have done a really good job with us. We’re all coming into the season probably the fittest we’ve been; we’ve all been breaking PBs in our fitness scores.
“I feel really good, really fit, and feel I’ve been playing quite well in the pre-season games. But for me, I’ve just got to play my best whenever possible. Whether that means I’m starting or on the bench, it’s up to the coaches.
“Our big focus this year is that we’re a squad and we’re not all fighting against each other. Whether it’s me starting, Greg [Peterson] or Brian [Alainu’uese],” the choice between those three being on the presumption that Tim Swinson will be the other lock – “we’ll all be helping each other out to make sure we get the win at the weekend.”
Cummings has already received a significant boost ahead of the season by being called up for the Scotland squad that gathered for a training camp at St Andrews. It remains to be seen how long he takes to be included in an actual match-day 23 at national level, but he feels that even that initial involvement with Gregor Townsend’s set-up has given him a target to aim for when it comes to assessing his own play.
“It’s shown me a level of rugby I want to play at and a lot of the areas I’ve still got to improve,” he added. “It’s a really big step up.
“Here is obviously a high level, but going to Scotland everything is a bit sharper and quicker. Going there has given me an idea that if I want to play at that level then there’s some parts of my games that need to be improved.”
With a couple of months before the squad for the Autumn Tests is announced, Cummings looks set to be given ample opportunity to show that he has improved enough to make that ultimate step, starting on Saturday in Galway.