It is often said that versatility can be a curse as much as a blessing in the modern game of rugby but Ruaridh Jackson is more than happy to offer a multi-stringed bow in his second stint at Glasgow Warriors.
Coaches love players who can solve in-game problems by switching positions, although it can often be the case that such adaptability makes them more useful as bench men, covering a range of scenarios.
Full-back/stand-off Jackson agreed to rejoin Glasgow from Harlequins, three years after he departed for Wasps, fully aware that both of his preferred positions will, when fit and available, be occupied by Scotland’s most exciting players in the shape of Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell.
With the 29-year-old still very much in the international mix – he scored a try and kicked a couple of conversions and a penalty on the last game of the summer tour in Fiji – it’s not as if he is being viewed as a Test window stop-gap. And yet, the way seasons, not to mention matches, unfold these days there are likely to be opportunities in both slots and Jackson is the man in possession of the No 15 jersey as it stands, with Hogg out injured.
Another versatile operator, Peter Horne, pictured, stood in for the rested Russell during the 18-10 win at Connacht last Saturday, though Jackson ended up in the first receiver role for a period of the match.
“There were a few changes in the backline but it just shows how we can change and we’ve got a few guys who can play a few different positions,” said Jackson of that win in Galway.
“[Versatility] is a great string to have to your bow to have the likes of myself, Horney, Jonesy [wing Lee Jones] can switch in there, it shows the versatility of the squad and that’s a great thing to have. When we get situations like that we should be able to adapt and keep going in the right direction.
“The physicality of games now, it means there’s going to be injuries and switching around, you can’t always plan for that.
“It’s something you don’t necessarily train for, but there are occasions when there’s guys out with injuries, and you have to jump in at centre or the wing. You think at the time ‘what am I doing?’ but later on it can stand you in good stead if the situation does arrive on the field.”
The vast majority of Jackson’s 31 caps have come at stand-off but he admits the focus has shifted as he enters the later stage of his career.
“At the moment it’s just full-back but I’ve done a few reps [in training] at 10 as well. I’ve got used to both roles but at the minute it’s more dominant towards the full-back side.
“In games, it’s that ability to have a two-sided attack that Dave [Rennie, coach] quite likes, so to have the ability for both will help. It also means you get the ball in your hands more, although there wasn’t much of that on Saturday.
“Hopefully we’ll get the chance to do that a bit more in better conditions this weekend. It is that ability to have two sides of attack so defences have to keep guessing and that’s a good thing and something I can hopefully bring to the team.”
Glasgow host the Ospreys at Scotstoun tomorrow and Jackson is relishing the prospect of running out at the stadium for the first time since the 2014 semi-final win over Munster.
He feels the quality of tries scored in appalling west of Ireland conditions at the weekend indicates the sharpness of the attack, under the guidance of former Scotland assistant Jason O’Halloran, that can be unleashed by the Warriors this season. He added: “Dave talked about that, saying don’t go into your shells, you still have to have the opportunity to attack and to use our kicking game as an attacking weapon, and that was the case with the second try. The space was there, Ali [Price] recognised it, Leo [Sarto] reacted well and Jonesy supported.
“A first-phase try in those conditions was credit to the boys and the work during pre-season on our skills and how we want to attack. Maybe a few more of these.
“Of course, Scotstoun’s not shy of rain and wind either. We’re used it but it’ll be awesome to be back out there in front of the home crowd. It’s something we’re all looking forward to and. hopefully. it’ll be a sell out against another top team. It’s a big battle but it’s one we’re relishing.”
The new 4G pitch apart, Jackson said his move back has been a return to comforting familiarity.
“There are a few younger faces for sure but in terms of the facilities they’re all the same but for the pitch which is a huge bonus.
“I’m embracing [a more senior role] this time. My first year was 2006-07 season and we had a couple of years training at Whitecraigs, maybe three years. The change has been really positive, before we were dotting about here there and everywhere, to have everything in this set-up now is great to see. Everyone’s seen the growth of the squad and the team and the facilities have been a big thing in that.”