6N: Warrior Swinson’s return from injury displays perfect timing

Postponement of Glasgow's game against Ulster gives forward free weekend to prepare for Ireland Test

Tim Swinson with the Calcutta Cup.
Tim Swinson with the Calcutta Cup. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

GLASGOW’s PRO14 game against Ulster on Friday has been postponed until April because of the poor weather, but at least one Warriors player will be able to take the disappointment in his stride. Having been out for nearly four months after requiring surgery on finger damage sustained while playing for Scotland against Samoa, Tim Swinson will hardly be put out by missing another 80 minutes of action – especially after timing his comeback to perfection.

It was just two weeks ago that the 31-year-old lock returned to action with Glasgow for the league match against the Cheetahs – and eight days later he was part of the Scotland squad that won the Calcutta Cup for the first time in 10 years. Indeed, not only did Swinson come back at the most opportune time, he came back refreshed and raring to go at a point in the season when many others are beginning to feel the strain.

“It was delightful – the first Christmas without rugby in my career,” Swinson said earlier this week. “It’s the longest time I’ve had off since I was 17, which is pretty nice.

“I’m exceptionally lucky. I managed to return from my injury a couple of weeks early to play for Glasgow against the Cheetahs. I played quite well there. It gave me a lot of confidence that I was put back on to the bench, which is no mean feat considering the team’s been playing so well, especially in the game against France.

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“But it was a fantastic game to be involved in. As a game to go into there was a little bit of pressure, but it’s easy, good to get stuck into. You know they’re going to be physical, and that’s something that I seem to do quite well at.

“I think that was my fifth Calcutta Cup game. The other four didn’t go as well as the weekend, so it was great to get a really good result and a great squad effort.”

The fact that morale is so high is obviously useful as Scotland prepare to visit Ireland next weekend, but Swinson warned that an even greater effort could be needed to win in Dublin. “You can’t quite explain how much of a squad the Scotland team is at the moment.,” he continued. “There’s a group of guys, not just the 23 but the 32, 35 that were in camp, even the guys that have been involved during the mini-camps throughout the season –  we’re really all pulling the same way and everyone wants the same thing. I think the coaches have a hard task in picking players each week, and I was lucky enough to get picked against England.

“With the positivity that’s in the squad and feeds our record at Murrayfield at the moment as a national side, things are definitely moving forward and moving up. That’s what we’ve got to focus on  – that we’re not the finished article by any means, but we’re definitely showing some really good signs, and that’s something we’ve got to work on as a squad.

“Ireland are currently unbeaten in the Championship, which is no mean feat especially with the sides they’ve played. So we’re obviously not going there thinking we’ve succeeded and it will be easy. They’re a fantastic side and we’ll have to prepare extremely hard – as well as we prepared before the England game, maybe even harder.”

New deal for Rob Harley

Meanwhile, Rob Harley has become the latest Warriors player to agree a new deal with the team, just a week after setting a new appearances record for the club. The 27-year-old lock-cum-flanker, whose 178th appearance in last week’s loss to Munster surpassed the previous record held by Graeme Morrison, has signed for another two years.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Harley said. “I’m glad to have played so many games for Glasgow and I’m looking forward to playing even more in the future.

“We sell out every game we play at Scotstoun and the support we get from the fans is a big factor in how well we do here. The supporters drive us on in everything they do, it’s a great atmosphere and the idea of playing in front of them for two more years made my decision very easy.”

Dave Rennie, the Warriors’ head coach, said that Harley personified some of the best aspects of the team. “Rob epitomises what it means to play for this club and it’s great that he’s staying for two more years. He sets an example around the place day in, day out and is a true Warrior on the pitch.”

The postponement of the match against Ulster was announced by PRO14 on Wednesday afternoon after the closure of Glasgow airport and other travel difficulties made it clear that going ahead with the game would cause serious difficulties. The game will now be played on the weekend of 20-22 April – a week before the third and decisive 1872 Cup game against Edinburgh. The precise date and kick-off time will be announced in due course.

Scotland hit a mid championship high


About Stuart Bathgate 1412 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.