Sam Skinner is cautiously optimistic he could be available again for Scotland in time for the Six Nations.
The Exeter Chiefs forward had his World Cup dream shattered when he suffered a serious hamstring injury during the second of four warm-up matches against France at BT Murrayfield in August.
It may have only been his sixth cap but the Devon-born 24-year-old, whose father Peter is from Ayr, was hotly-tipped to not only be on the plane to Japan but start for Gregor Townsend’s side in the tournament where the Scots ultimately bowed out at the pool stage.
“I’m two months post-operation now,” said Skinner. “I’m looking to be back around New Year time. The Six Nations is a definite possibility but I will have to get back playing for Exeter first.
“I’ve been in the gym and have now done my first running session which went really well. I have to be careful as the problem with hamstrings is that they can feel great then go again. I’m not a sports car fast winger type, though, so don’t have to hit top-end speeds.”
Having been a close part of the long build-up to Japan, Skinner admits it was hard to watch the events unfold as they did in the Far East and revealed he was surprised that, after such a thorough preparation, Scotland’s opening performance against Ireland was so poor.
“I was thoroughly enjoying the pre-season with Scotland and felt in a really good place – the best I’ve been in my career to date,” said the lock/blindside. “I was gutted to miss the chance to go to a World Cup but life goes on. I want to move on and crack on to try and get more Scotland honours.
“I don’t know where I would have fitted [in the team] but I would’ve hoped to be involved in the games. It’s tough to watch when you wanted to be involved.
“I was massively surprised [by the Ireland performance]. I can’t really comment on it because I didn’t have a feel for it because I wasn’t in the squad or there that week but I was gutted for the whole squad. Nobody goes into a game like that expecting that to happen.”
Skinner’s aim now is to be back playing for Exeter, who are in Glasgow’s Heineken Champions Cup pool, in January and he has enjoyed welcoming former Scotstoun favourite Stuart Hogg to the club.
“Socially he’s fitted in well,” said Skinner. “Calls wise he has a lot to learn but he is a world-class player. I’m happy for him he has settled in well. His family is down here and he has enjoyed it and he is excited to kick on now.
“He came down last season and we had a few beers which was enjoyable. We had a nice fireworks night [this week] and he knows a few of the Exeter boys from Lions tours.”