What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That is the philosophy that Glasgow Warriors will carry into a crucial two-month period in the season, says veteran full-back Ruaridh Jackson, as the Scotstoun outfit look to bounce back from a disappointing run in which they have lost four of their last five games.
Dave Rennie’s side lost three Guinness Pro14 games on the bounce at the end of December and the start of January to relinquish top spot in Conference A.
They then picked up a scratchy win in appalling conditions over a Cardiff Blues side with nothing to play for in the Champions Cup, before heading down to London last weekend to take on Saracens in their final European pool match, in which they gave a good account of themselves for the first 60 minutes but then ran out of steam and ended up losing 38-19.
Despite this, they are still alive in both competitions and, with a number of players who have had only limited game time in recent months likely to be selected while the internationalists are away on Six Nations duty, Jackson reports that there is a real buzz around the club at the moment.
Warriors return to Pro14 action on Friday night when they host the Osrpreys at Scotstoun.
“We were definitely in a sticky patch,” he acknowledged. “It wasn’t a fun period over Christmas with the Edinburgh games and then Treviso away. We were disappointed with some of things we were doing, and we’ve been looking to correct that – but we’re clearly not the finished article quite yet.
“Having said that, I think this is a great new period for us, because a lot of guys who haven’t been playing recently are going to get a chance, and they have good memories from last autumn when we played some really good rugby during that international window.
“We should have had a clean sweep – that Munster game [when Warriors lost 25-24 at Thomond Park following a long-range Rory Scannell penalty with the last kick of the match] left a bitter taste in the mouth – but apart from that the guys fronted up really well and were really comfortable.
“These same guys will be fresh and desperate to make their mark again by helping to correct some of the issues we’ve had recently.
“We’re going to really focus on ourselves and really aim to push the boundaries. We want to make sure that come the end of the Six Nations we are in a better position than when we started. We’ve got five games in this period, so it’s a focus for us, it’s like a mini league almost, and hopefully we can come away with some good points.”
Jackson then pointed out that it is unrealistic to expect a team to operate at the peak of their powers without any hiccups through the course of a whole season, and he suggested that it was better to have the wobble now rather than during the knock-out games at the end of the campaign.
“I think you look at the position we were in this time last year, we were cruising a bit and then coming out of the back of the Six Nations we struggled to find our feet, and lacked consistency,” he said.
“So, if we can really knuckle down now, almost have to fight tooth and nail to get back into the position we were in before, then I think that will put us into a good spot come the end of the season.
“I’m fairly confident we will battle our way back up to the top of our conference and finish the year with a home play-off semi-final – that’s certainly the goal.
“And, also, we’ve got a quarter final in Europe to look forward to, which we didn’t have last year, so there is plenty to play for. It’s an exciting time.”
Jackson has not had an awful lot of game time himself in recent months. Having converted from stand-off to full-back when he returned to the club at the start of last season following three years away playing in the English Premiership, the 30-year-old has had to get used to the idea that when Stuart Hogg, pictured, is fit and in need of game time then he is going to start.
The Aberdonian believes, however, that he has enough experience under his belt now to be able to slot back in fairly seamlessly despite the fact that he has played only one game since 1 December. And if required to do so, he would be more than happy to revert back to the position he played when he first established himself at the club 11 years ago.
“I’m loving it at 15, I definitely play more rugby there and do more training there – but I’m still trying to get some time at 10 during training and I think in this period I possibly could get a shot there,” he said. “That would be great, getting back in the mix, and hopefully after a decade of playing 10 I can still do it.”