Alex Dunbar is confident that he and other members of the Glasgow squad are returning to peak fitness at precisely the right time – and that their injury- enforced absences should ensure they will feel fresh and full of energy going into the Pro14 play-offs.
The Scotland centre, in common with back-row forward Callum Gibbins to name just one example, has recently come back from a long spell on the sidelines. By his own admission, Dunbar is not yet as sharp as he would like to be, but, with games against Ulster tomorrow then Edinburgh a week later before a home semi-final, he has the time and the opportunity to get back to top form for the run-in to the campaign.
“It was a frustrating couple of months with the injuries and stuff,” said Dunbar, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Monday. “It was just one thing after another. I picked up a niggle at New Year, head knock in January and then a hamstring after that. It was frustrating at the time, but I feel good now, so I’m looking forward to the business end of the season.
“This is probably the first time I’ve been fresh going into this part of the year, so I’m looking forward to offering anything. We’ve all got that end goal of getting to the final, so I’ll do whatever’s possible to get to it.
“I‘ve been working pretty hard for the last couple of months, putting in a lot of work off the field. At the weekend I felt pretty good, so I’ve just got to keep building that and get a bit more sharpness back in my legs.
“It’s quite good that a lot of boys are saying they’re still quite fresh. There’s a few boys who picked up injuries at the start of the season, so it’s not like they’ve played a full season. But, like I say, everyone’s fit just now and looking forward to the run-in.”
Forwards Ryan Wilson and Jonny Gray will be conspicuous by their absence this week and next, and face a race against time to be fit for the Scotstoun semi in the middle of next month. Overall, however, the injury list is not too lengthy, meaning that competition for places is as fierce as it has been all season. That is particularly true at Dunbar’s own position of centre.
“The last couple of months, all the centres are probably on form,” he added. “Everyone’s playing well, which is a good thing for the squad. When it comes to training we’ve just got to keep pushing each other on, drive the standards within.
“Then, when it comes to the weekend, whoever’s got the opportunity they’ve got to go out there and put in a big performance. We’ve done our analysis on Ulster, seen a couple of areas that they want to try and attack, so we’ll go into the game with a plan and we’ve got to execute it and get the win.”