Stuart Hogg puts injury time to good use as he eyes future

Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray may be enduring the frustration of extended injury lay-offs but every day remains a school day for two of Scottish rugby's brightest shining stars.

Warriors Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg launch CashBack schools of rugby at Glasgows Smithycroft Secondary.

The pair were at Smithycroft Secondary in east Glasgow yesterday to help launch a new CashBack scheme which will redistribute seized proceeds of crime into state school rugby and revealed that they have had plenty of more cerebral homework on top of the usual physical rehab required in such situations.

Hogg was forced home from the British and Irish Lions tour with a facial injury, and has also had an underlying shoulder problem operated on. Lock forward and Glasgow team-mate Gray had surgery on a wrist injury after returning from Scotland’s June tour.

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Both were said to be facing four to six months on the sidelines, although there have been positive noises that double Six Nations player of the tournament Hogg could return at the earlier end of that spectrum and yet play a part in Scotland’s autumn Test series against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

In the meantime, both have been maximising the extra time that comes with not being part of the Warriors playing squad.

Still just 25, Hogg has a long career ahead of him but has used the down time to start planning for a life, hopefully many years from now, when the boots are finally hung up.

The Hawick man is part of that new breed of player who has known nothing but playing the game he loves for a living and has been exploring the wider aspects of the sport.

“Being injured is a challenge I’ve never really had before,” he said. “Touch wood there’s not many long-term injuries in my career, but I’ve seen It as a challenge and an opportunity to do other things – learning about the business side of the game with [former Glasgow captain turned SRU ambassador] Al Kellock, and I’ve 
thoroughly enjoyed doing that as well.

“I was lucky enough to get across to Bologna and help out with the [kit suppliers] Macron visit for Glasgow, and I really enjoyed that wee insight into what actually happens behind the scenes.

“I’ve sat up on the office [at Scotstoun] a couple of times to see what everyone gets up to, and I can assure you that it is not just drinking coffee and having a bit of craic up there – they are working extremely hard.

“So, there are a couple of little bits and pieces happening off the field which I am enjoying, so it’s a good opportunity to do something like that while I’m injured.”

Hogg has also been enjoying a bit of coaching with West of Scotland, assisting his elder brother Graham at Burnbrae.

“I’m enjoying that so far, it was a good win [29-25 over GHK] at the weekend for us,” he added. “So, whether it is going to be coaching or the business side of the game, I don’t know – but you can’t prepare too early for the future, so I’m just trying to get a few ideas about what I might like to achieve after rugby.

“I came straight out of school into the academy and this is my eighth season at Glasgow, so I’ve not really had time to do other things. A lot of the boys do Open University courses, or a bit of work experience, or have a trade behind them when they come into professional rugby so, for me, it is about having a little look at what I could potentially do in the future and get a few feelers out there and see what comes of it.”

Hogg remains guarded about stating when he hopes to be back on the field and said: “We’re just taking it day by day, trying to hit and pass daily targets. We’ve got a target to get back playing bit that will remain in-house in case it doesn’t happen.

“I’m enjoying my rehab, I’m feeling stronger and fitter, and hopefully it’s not too far away that I’ll be back playing.”

Gray has also had plenty to keep both body and mind occupied as he also strives to regain full fitness.

He is awaiting un update next week on his recovery and a clearer indication of when he might be able to make his comeback.

“The wrist is feeling good and it’s always good to have a chance to work on other areas of my game, and use the time to learn from other sports,” said the 23-year-old.

“I looked at the Tour de France and looking into some of their training stuff; looking at NFL videos and some of the running drills they do.

“Me and Hoggy have been doing different fitness and speed sessions – hill sprints and stuff – stuff you don’t get to do when you are training with the team.”

The “CashBack Schools of Rugby – Sport for Change” programme has been awarded over £1.3million by the Scottish Government from proceeds of crime to invest over three years, with the SRU directing the funding across 15 secondary schools, and associated feeder primary schools, in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas.