It was an odd season for Ruaridh Jackson last time out. With Stuart Hogg injured early, the new Glasgow recruit played every minute of the opening six league matches and he did so in his adopted position of full-back.
In fact, so competent was Jackson‘s showing at full-back that come the summer tour he was handed Scotland’s No 10 shirt for the first time in two years for the Canada Test.
He could be forgiven for being a little confused over where he should be concentrating his energies but, with a World Cup looming large in the headlights, the sort of versatility that can scupper a player’s career might just offer Jackson a trip to Japan in 13 months’ time.
“I’ll be happy if I’m on the pitch really, if it’s ten or fullback,” he said, adopting the party line on his favourite position.
“Certainly last year I wasn’t expecting to play as much at full-back and then I really enjoyed it and it ended up being a pretty successful season for me, plenty game time.
“So probably, yeah, more likely to be predominantly at full-back but hopefully get a few shots at ten as well. I feel comfortable there and I’d like to put my name in the hat.
“It was nice to be back in the ten jersey and get a good bit of game time (against Canada). I would have loved another shot but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Adam (Hastings) went and got a couple of games there, which will have been a big boost for his confidence leading into this season.
“I definitely see myself as a 10/15 so it’s quite good in a way, I offer some options there and it’s nice that I’ve not been completely forgotten and that the first ten years of my career weren’t a complete waste!”
There was something of the prodigal son to Jackson’s return to Scotstoun last season. He has spent two seasons at Wasps, one of which was blighted by injury, and then one at Harlequins, who Glasgow play tomorrow in Perth, before returning north in search of regular rugby.
He got that much and more. Culminating in that startling, 14-point interception on his own goal line against the Cheetahs, Jackson looked infinitely more comfortable at full-back than he ever did pulling the strings at ten, although that may have something to do with added maturity and the wisdom that comes with it.
At 30 he may be approaching veteran status but Jackson reminds us that Glasgow remain a very young squad. This is one reason, he suggests, why Dave Rennie has been slow to sign new players.
“In previous seasons, or when there was a bit of a build, there were a lot of changes,” Jackson argues, “but we want to try to keep a really good core squad. It is a really young squad as well. Looking at the forward pack, it is another year of experience that a lot of young guys can gain from. I don’t think it is always the case that we need to add. These guys will be a year better for what they’ve been through and it is just about having a few little additions here and there.
“This squad got us to the semi-finals last year. It was a disappointing result, but we feel we will be better and learn from the experience and will be able to push on with another young, exciting squad. I don’t see it [lack of recruitment] being an issue at all.”
The other reason Jackson is relaxed about the relative lack of new faces is that several senior players were sidelined for so long last season that having them back in harness for this campaign will feel like new recruits.
“Alex Dunbar is not a new name but he had a bad year with injuries last season,” says Jackson. “He has been exceptional for us over the past few years and having him back is almost like a new signing.
“Oli Kebble only played a handful of games last season. He’s not necessarily a youngster, but he will be newish to a lot of the Warriors fans and he should be a big boost in the set piece especially. He is a big physical presence out there.
“Brian Alain’uese didn’t play much either. But you’ve got these guys coming back from long-term injuries who can hopefully stake a claim and really help us.”
Glasgow need to add some attitude and some beef to make their forward pack competitive against the very best in the league and prevent the sort of one-sided semi-final that they suffered against the Scarlets. But Jackson is confident that the Warriors are headed in the right direction with only the odd tweak needed
“The boys in the pack have been working hard on set piece and driving maul and things like that just add another string to our bow,” he added. “If we do need to go to plan B then we can do that. It is about having that variety.”
And Jackson understands the importance of a plan B more than most.