Ruaridh Jackson says Scotland call is not be-all and end-all
The 29-year-old has enjoyed a perfect start to his second stint at Glasgow Warriors and, with star man Stuart Hogg yet to make his comeback from injury and young Edinburgh prospect Blair Kinghorn picking up a gash last weekend, the odds on Jackson playing full-back for Scotland against Samoa on 11 November must have shortened.
The bulk of Jackson’s 31 caps have come at stand-off and his only two starts at full-back have come in away games in Ireland and Fiji.
Jackson has played in all six of Glasgow’s Guinness Pro14 wins this season since his return to Scotstoun from Harlequins, following a previous stint at Wasps. When asked about his Scotland chances next month, he is instantly dismissive.
“No. Hoggy’s back anyway,” he said. “I am just loving being back. If I get that reward in November then that is great but if not I am happy to keep playing and enjoying it.”
Jackson’s career is veering towards the full-back slot but he is not about to play down his versatility.
“I enjoy being out there on the pitch, running about, being out playing with the boys again. If it is playing full-back then I will be happy,” he said. “If I get a shot at ten I will be happy too. So at this stage I wouldn’t rule it out but we have a lot of depth at ten. Hoggy has been injured and the door has been opened for me so I have just been enjoying it being on the pitch.”
Jackson produced a brilliant near length-of-the-pitch interception from his own try line to set up Callum Gibbins for his second try in last weekend’s 29-26 win at the Cheetahs in South Africa, and the full-back is eager to help make it seven from seven when Glasgow face Exeter Chiefs in their Champions Cup opener at Sandy Park tomorrow.
“I can’t remember the last time I’ve played six in a row but it has been nice putting a string of games together that’s for sure,” he said. “It gives you confidence playing week in and week out. I am feeling good for it and hopefully touch wood the body is holding up so far. There are a few aches and pains but that comes with the territory. It has been good fun and I am enjoying it.
“Regarding our performances we are pretty critical of ourselves as we set high standards. There have been a few games we have put ourselves under pressure when we did not need to.
“The fact that we won games not at our best and got some performances of high quality. If we get things right from minute one to eighty we can be in a good position.”
Jackson has experience of facing Exeter both during his time playing in the Aviva Premiership and with Glasgow three years ago.
“It doesn’t get much harder than down at Sandy Park,” said Jackson of the English champions. “They are coming off the back of the championship last year. They are a fit team, a physical team and have a really good squad that has a tightness about them. They are 11 games on the trot at home so it is going to be a really big challenge for us.
“I have played at Sandy Park a few times. I love playing there. It is a good track and the atmosphere is good fun. The crowd really get into it. Even if it is against you it is good fun. Hopefully we can get down the right end and quieten their chants down a bit.
“It is loud, there is a bit of wind, it is a bit like here, not too dissimilar. They have a good vocal crowd that helps them out. Hopefully we can turn that against them and put on a good show and get that win.”
Jackson insists that a lot has changed since Glasgow registered home-and-away wins over the Chiefs in their Heineken Cup pool in 2014.
“We have both won championships since then,” he said. “That was a good few years ago. We had them in the Heineken Cup and we got the win home and away. We know that we can beat them. Their team has probably not changed all that much since then and they have built a good core squad and have moved forward.
“But we know it is going to be tough. They are a confident team that are hard to break down with a good set piece and we have to go down there and front up. Hopefully the forwards will give us a good platform so we can fire some shots and give it our best.”