Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist bounded enthusiastically into Scotland’s World Cup training camp keen to put a season from hell behind him.
The 24-year-old was named Scotland captain for last year’s autumn Test series but before the joy of that honour had time to sink in he broke his right arm in the European Challenge Cup pool match against Lyon and his season was left in ruins.
Gilchrist explained: “One of the bones didn’t take properly. It was a failed union and it didn’t set properly so I had to go in and have the old plate ripped off and have a bone graft on the outside bone. Apparently it is a numbers game. If you break both bones the chances of having a failed union in one of the bones is something like one in ten.
“It is always tough to take when you get injured. You get put in a situation and you have to just get on with it. It was not the smoothest road to recovery and I am hoping I am coming out the other end and nearing full fitness now and it will be worth it when I start playing again.”
Vern Cotter’s extended squad assembled in Motherwell yesterday and, after physical assessments, will fly out to the French Pyrenees on Thursday for a week of high altitude training that will also include some work with the French commandos.
However, while some may be carrying a touch of fatigue from a long hard season, Gilchrist is raring to go.
He said: “It is swings and roundabouts. I haven’t played in a while so it will take me a while to get back to match fitness and the ball is still rolling for them. I am sure some guys will be feeling it a bit more than others but it is a while out from the games so I have time.
“I would be fine now to play if there was games.”
After Cotter placed his faith in him prior to those November Tests, Gilchrist must be considered a contender for the World Cup captaincy but it is not something he is distracted by at this point.
He said: “I hope I can bring my leadership skills to the fore. I don’t want to say I want to be captain. I have a lot to worry about in terms of my own game. I want to make sure that I am match fit and back playing as well as I can. These will be my two goals. When I get to that stage I use the leadership qualities that Vern saw in me in the first instance and I can bring that to the squad.”
Of course, with positional rivals like the Gray brothers, Richie and Jonny, the Stirling lad has his work cut out forcing himself back into the line-up.
“I want to get into the starting team,” said the 6ft 8in lock. “It is not a personal thing between anybody. I want to make sure by the first game of the World Cup I am in the starting team. That is my only goal. I have a lot of work to do between now and then to get the jersey back. That is the challenge I am looking forward to.
“In the Six Nations, in my position, guys were playing really well. I’ve just got to be back at my best and that’s what I’ll be hoping to do.
“There were a lot of things in my mind last season that were big goals which were just wiped out [by the injury]. I’m lucky that this year, being World Cup year, there is a lot of rugby still to be played and hopefully I have come out the other side.”