Tim Swinson could not have chosen a better moment to make his comeback more dramatic.
Nearly four months after injuring his hand playing for Scotland against Samoa, he returned to action for Glasgow Warriors – and eight days later was in the team that won the Calcutta Cup for the first time in a decade.
What is more, besides the opportune timing of his return, the 31-year-old second row has come back rejuvenated by his spell on the sidelines and ready to give his all for both club and country as the the Six Nations and Pro14 each reach their climactic stages.
“It was delightful – the first Christmas without rugby in my career,” said Swinson. “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 [Scotland] bench, which is no mean feat considering the team’s been playing so well, especially in the game against France.
“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 morale is so high after the 25-13 win over England at BT Murrayfield is obviously useful as Scotland prepare to visit Ireland next weekend, but Swinson believes 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 added. “With the positivity, things are definitely moving forward and 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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, lock/flanker Rob Harley has signed a new two-year contract with the Warriors, the week after setting a new appearance record for the team.
The 27-year-old, who overtook former centre Graeme Morrison with his 178th appearance in last week’s loss to Munster, is now tied to the Warriors until 2020.
Both Harley and Swinson seemed sure to be involved in Glasgow’s ProO14 match against Ulster tomorrow night, but because of the weather that has now been postponed until the weekend of 20-22 April.