Scotland forward Ryan Wilson believes the advances made by support staff and training techniques mean he will be fully ready for the intensity of an international Six Nations match in the pressure cooker of Cardiff on Saturday.
The Glasgow captain hasn’t played since December 16 when he injured his ankle against Montpellier but reckons, in the modern game, there is less need for game time in the lead up to a Test match.
Full-back Stuart Hogg returned from a couple of months out and was immediately up to speed in the recent match against Exeter Chiefs and, although Wilson has not been able to have a full hit-out, he is sure he will be ready if selected by coach Gregor Townsend today.
“Coaches have all sorts of things up their sleeves in terms of plans and stuff,” said the 28-year-old, who will be hoping to win his 33rd cap.
“I am talking for myself, but I could go back into a game. A lot of it is mindset. Telling yourself you are not tired and keeping going.
“I will also be a lot fresher. I have not had five weeks of bashing myself to pieces before a Six Nations so I am coming in quite fresh.”
Wilson was able to test himself in controlled match conditions at Scotand’s Oriam training base last week. “It is the more the high tempo brand of rugby. That was what last week was about,” he said.
“It was coming in and trying to stretch the players as much as possible. There was some contact stuff on Friday. Obviously we were worried about injuries because there have been so many so far but we still had a good bash out on Friday.
“I have been keeping on top of my fitness at Glasgow then coming in here and we had that week last week. They work out at 50-minute sessions and you end up doing more in training than you would in a game anyway.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, the No.8 admitted that notching a major scalp away from home in the tournament is the next box to tick off in the recent Scotland resurgence.
“Beating Australia away [last June] was probably a big turning point,” he said. “We were starting to get there and then had that game. You can’t put a pin on where it started to change, but results like these are key.
“In the last Six Nations, we focused on those home games because we had three of them, whereas this year we obviously only have the two so going away and picking up points away from home is going to be massive. And there is a squad here that believes we can do that – so it will be a must-win going down there.”
Wilson feels the time is right for Scotland to prove they are genuine contenders.
“We were always that team that nearly did it and then started getting the results where we would grind them out and we’ve now become a team that we are doing better,” he said. “The All Blacks was a different one. We nearly did it, but we should have won that match, but that’s probably the mindset. We’re not a team that’s thinking ‘oh, we lost but we did well,’ we’re a team that’s thinking we’ll win this game and we’re starting to do that.
“I keep coming back to it and it’s about going down there and believing you can do it and there is that belief, so we’ve got to keep getting that in our mind, knowing we can go down there and win.”
Scotland are due to name their team to face Wales this lunchtime.