Fire versus Dragons shows Welsh can play front-row

Jon Welsh: Return from injury. Picture: SNS
Jon Welsh: Return from injury. Picture: SNS
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JON WELSH marked his return from shoulder surgery and a six-month recovery period with a man-of-the-match performance against the Dragons. Now, he is determined to do everything he can to claim the tighthead front-row slot against Toulouse in Sunday’s pivotal Pool Four European Rugby Champions Cup tie.

The 28-year-old’s technically proficient and physically powerful scrummaging display against an obdurate Dragons’ pack was vital in securing the penalty try which was to prove decisive in defeating the Welsh side and sending Glasgow into Europe on the back of a confidence-building victory.

Given that Welsh last started for Warriors in the Pro12 final on 31 May, the outstanding nature of his contribution in his first performance back in the bone-jarring context of the professional game’s front-row collisions was quite simply immense. Yet, although injury to Euan Murray may rule him out of the contest for the No 3 jersey on Sunday, the former pugilist admits that he must back-up his Sunday best with a prodigious effort in training this week if he is to play against Guy Noves’ side. “I will need to perform well in training and hopefully, if I do, I will get the nod. But it was a decent performance for my first one back and hopefully I have put my hand up,” admitted Welsh.

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“I remember playing at Gala and being told that the punters hadn’t come to pay money to watch us scrum, but you saw against the Dragons just how important the scrum was for us and the penalty try was decisive in the end. But going forward, with the depth we have, Rossouw de Klerk has been involved in both the previous European games and young Zander Fagerson has played in some big games like the Pro12 match at Ulster, so the competition is tough.

“We also have so much depth and top quality in that depth throughout the squad, whether it is tighthead, loosehead or wherever. So the competition for places is intense and the quality of the training in the scrum is the same and we are all pushing each other on. But we are looking forward to Sunday and confident that whoever gets the nod in the front-row will do a job for Glasgow.”

Although Welsh admitted he has benefited hugely from game time with Ayr in the BT Premiership, he knows that there is no substitute for 
re-tuning his game at the top level, yet the prop was sanguine about his injury sabbatical.

“It is always tough coming back from an injury when you have been out for a few months. Clearly you have your rehab programme with weights fitness and such and everyone in the squad really encourages you along, but there is no substitute for game time,” admitted Welsh.

“You can do all the fitness and gym work you want but it isn’t the same as getting the playing time. Thankfully I got a few games with Ayr and that has been massive for me.”

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