AFTER missing the start of the season whilst recovering from ankle surgery during the summer, Josh McKay made up for lost time last Saturday night when he scored Glasgow Warriors’ fifth and final try in an impressive win over the Bulls at Scotstoun – and now he is set on helping the side recreate their recent home form in South Africa over the next two weekends.
McKay’s impact after arriving at Glasgow Warriors from his native New Zealand last November was one of the few success stories in a generally disappointing 2021-22 season for the Scotstoun outfit. Nobody in the squad will look back at that campaign as a career highlight, but he was a reliable threat from full-back – scoring five tries in 15 appearances for his new club – with his attitude and work-rate also catching the eye.
McKay’s arrival along with the emergence of Ollie Smith (also fit again after missing the start of the season with a back issue) means that there should be some lively competition for the Warriors No 15 jersey this season, with Cole Forbes and perhaps Huw Jones (if that is where new head coach Franco Smith chooses to deploy him once he has recovered from the back injury which is expected to keep him sidelined until at least the end of this month) also in contention.
The really encouraging news for McKay, his coaches and Warriors fans is that the player reckons that his performances can improve on last season now that the ankle issue he played with all last season has been dealt with.
“It was a high ankle sprain,” explained McKay, who had stints playing Super Rugby with both the Highlanders and the Crusaders before heading north. “I had syndesmosis repair which is tightrope surgery between the tibia and the fibula bones in my lower leg, just to hold it together.
“I hurt it playing for Canterbury about six or seven weeks before I came over to Scotland, so I played for six or seven months on it. I had it scanned here after about two or three months, and we made the call to try to make it through to the end of the season.
“Obviously, if I’d had another big incident where I’d rolled it badly then I would have surgery sooner, but it looked like I could hang on until the end of the season and we went down that route. I’m happy that we did.
“The season obviously didn’t finish how we would have liked but I’d rather be out there playing rather than missing the end through surgery. Then, with the time off during the summer, I was able to really knuckle down and dedicate the time to doing my rehab.”
“During last season, I was managed throughout the week at training, and it did get sore at time, but when I was warm and on the field, I was fine. So, I knew that if I was going to be playing, I just had to get warm and then I’d be good to go. When I was icing it, it was a bit sore but when I was playing, unless I rolled it, it was genuinely okay.
“I think it was holding me back a little bit last season,” he concedes, when pushed on whether he felt the injury had any negative impact on his performances. “I definitely feel more comfortable now, that’s for sure.”
Glasgow – who have lost eight consecutive league games on the road – name their team to play the Sharks in Durban this weekend (Saturday at 3.05pm) at lunch-time tomorrow (Friday), and McKay is matter of fact about how the team need to approach the challenge.
“At the end of the day, every field is about 100 metres long and about 70 metres wide,” he said. “It’s all really easy at home in front of your own fans, it’s a familiar setting. You don’t need anything else to get you up for the game. So, we just have to individually get ourselves to a place where we can perform away from home as well as we do at home.
“We’ve been doing a few things like going in saunas to get some heat exposure, but the weather is just a little part of it,” he adds, in reference to the humid climate Warriors can expect on Saturday. “You just have to turn up and get yourself to a place where it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing. Mindset has got to come first. You need to get to a place where you can perform in any circumstances.”
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