Exeter v Glasgow Warriors: Lee Jones feared his career was over after 22-month injury lay-off

Lee Jones thought his rugby career was over after spending 22 months out of the game with a succession of injuries. But the Glasgow Warriors winger will today line up against European champions Exeter Chiefs in what is arguably the match of the weekend in the Heineken Champions Cup.

Glasgow winger Lee Jones missed 22 months with a succession of injuries. Picture: Bill Murray / SNS
Glasgow winger Lee Jones missed 22 months with a succession of injuries. Picture: Bill Murray / SNS

It’s a testament to the Scotland international’s fortitude that he is back on the big stage after such a soul-destroying period.

He finally made his comeback a fortnight ago in Glasgow’s much-needed win over Cardiff and richly deserved his man of the match award at Rodney Parade. He retained his place for the narrow home defeat by Dragons last weekend and not even a yellow card could dim his enthusiasm for his return to the fray following a succession of setbacks.

“Over the course of it all, I think I had five different injuries,” Jones explained. “I had a knee injury initially, which was then followed by four soft tissue injuries – two hamstrings and two calves.

Lee Jones made his comeback in the win over Cardiff and retained his place for the narrow defeat by Dragons at Scotstoun. Picture: Ross MacDonald / SNS

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“They could all have been connected, but they were essentially all different injuries. It was just one thing after another. But I’m feeling good now and my body is feeling all right.

“The injuries were in both legs – all different hamstrings and calves across both legs. So I did the full house. It’s great to get a couple of games under my belt and now look forward to the European campaign.”

The sprightly Jones has always posed a threat with his pace but, at 32, did he fear he might have played his last match?

“Yeah, if I’m honest, 100 per cent. Especially with the last two injuries. I was fit for good periods over lockdown and then I came back and had another wee injury again.

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“So it was a case of getting that out the way and getting fit again. Then, with the hamstring, which was the last one, the first thought in my head was: ‘I don’t know if I’m ever going to play again’.

“It was a funny old couple of years. I was fit for certain periods in between the injuries, but never really warranting selection. I was almost fit at the wrong times.

“I’m just grateful to be back playing rugby in all honesty.”

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Jones is quick to thank the support network that helped him through, both at home and at Scotstoun. He is indebted to the medical staff at Glasgow Warriors and in particular to strength and conditioning expert Liam Walshe.

Wife Charline was his rock and, as a former pro cyclist, understood just how devastating the impact of injuries can be.

“She’s always been the one who I’ve got to go home and tell: ‘That’s another injury, another hamstring gone’. She’s the one who has to pick up those pieces and help me.

“I think I held it together alright for the first half of things, but the last one I felt for Charline because she probably got the worst of it from me. The last hamstring injury was the toughest one, I just couldn’t believe it happened again. She’s got it a wee bit easier now but she’s been magic the whole time.”

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