Fegus Thomson hopes for change in fortune after two-year injury hell

THE beard is the giveaway. Fergus Thomson wants a change; he needs something to be different in the coming months to most of the 24 he has just endured.

Glasgow head into tomorrow's Magners League match with the Newport Gwent Dragons with coach Sean Lineen insisting the team has to be sharper to change the run of five league defeats to this particular Welsh foe at home.

The coach knows Thomson, at his sharpest, can be a major boost to the side's bid for the play-offs and has handed him a chance to grasp a role tomorrow and put two years of misery behind him.

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The 26-year-old had a promising career in front of him when he first burst on to the scene with Glasgow as a teenage replacement away to Sale in 2003. He had to wait three years to savour a start for Glasgow, but through 2006-7 became the next bright thing in Scottish forward play and just over two years ago lined up for his first international start, against Italy in Rome. But then the cruel twist came.

He suffered a shoulder injury on tour with Scotland 'A' and spent the rest of 2008 recovering from an operation, then came back and injured his ribs against Edinburgh. Then it was concussion against Leinster, and a new problem emerged with the shoulder joints. They were operated on at the end of the season before a calf muscle tore in pre-season training.

Luck has not been associated with the Bell Baxter HS and Howe of Fife product.

He has been back in training since October, but has struggled to persuade the coaches that he deserved a recall ahead of the consistent Dougie Hall.

"You do question a lot about yourself when things aren't happening the way you expect," he admitted, after finally being handed the No2 jersey for this weekend.

"It was very hard to get your head around it all – you come back, get injured again, come back, get injured, then come back, train hard and watch a lot of rugby from the sidelines. They have been hard times, frustrating. You have to reach inside yourself, it's all down to you as to whether you're prepared to keep believing, and put the work in, to get back. Ultimately, you can't escape from the fact that the only way to change things is to get your head down and keep training hard, get a place in the team and then play well. I've got a chance now and I just want to enjoy the game, especially with them getting big now heading to the play-offs."

Tomorrow, he lines up against Tom Willis, the Dragons skipper and heartbeat of the visiting team. They have come from being Wales' also-rans to push for a place in the top four and a victory for the Dragons would significantly enhance their prospects, as well as harm the Warriors'.

Thomson hopes he has had his fill of injuries now, and the bearded hooker is firmly focused on a more positive outlook. He added: "There is pressure on us all to do well this weekend, but it's good pressure being up there vying for the play-offs rather than the pressure of being at the bottom.

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"I feel good now and one positive I've taken from the last year is that things can change quickly in pro rugby. I've experienced it changing for the worse. Hopefully, now it can swing the other way."

Glasgow: B Stortoni; C Shaw, M Evans, G Morrison, DTV van der Merwe; D Parks, M McMillan; K Tkachuk, F Thomson, M Low, T Barker, A Kellock (capt), K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie. Subs: D Hall, E Kalman, D Turner, R Vernon, C Gregor, R Jackson, H O'Hare.

Newport Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; W Harries, M Watkins, T Riley, R Fussell; J Tovey, W Evans; H Gustafson, T Willis (capt), P Palmer, R Sidoli, L Charteris, A Coombs, G Thomas, T Faletau. Subs: S Jones, B Castle, J Thomas, H MacDoanld, R Gomer-Davies, J Arlidge, J Leadbeater.