Aberdeen-raised rugby star Ruaridh Jackson’s move back to Glasgow to be closer to the Scotland set-up has returned a string of impressive displays and a call-up – now he’s ready for the Autumn Tests.
Starting next Saturday, Scotland play Samoa, New Zealand and Australia over three consecutive weekends at Murrayfield.
Jackson, 29, returned to Scotstoun this season after three years away with Wasps and Harlequins, signing a one-year deal.
His thinking was simple – get closer to the national team coaches, including new boss Gregor Townsend, and play more rugby. So far it’s paid off.
The former Robert Gordon’s College pupil, most recognised as a fly-half before this campaign, emerged as a dependable full-back in the early running, covering for the injured Stuart Hogg and playing 80 minutes in Warriors’ opening six PRO14 matches – all wins – and their European Champions Cup defeat at Exeter Chiefs. Jackson said: “I just thought it would be better for me, being up and more in the eyes of the Scotland coaches and having more regular conversations and input from them.
“I also thought it was an opportunity to come back and hopefully play a bit more regular rugby, which so far has been the case.
“I probably wasn’t expecting to play seven or eight 80 minutes on the bounce at the start of the season, but it’s been a better start than expected for me personally and I think that’s definitely helped in my aspirations further down the line in terms of Scotland stuff.
“I’m just happy to be back up here at Glasgow and playing regular rugby.”
With Hogg now fit again, Jackson is in a battle for the No15 shirt with one of the country’s most exciting players and saw himself out of the side for Hogg’s first two games back.
So is Jackson up for the full-back fight, or has he shifted his attention back to fly-half, where he came on to score two conversions against the Southern Kings?
He said: “I’d say at the moment my focus is on that full-back role. I still try to get a few reps in at fly-half.
“I think it’s good to have both strings to your bow but, the way the season’s panned out so far, certainly with Glasgow and with Scotland, full-back is probably where I see myself focusing most of my attentions.
“I’m glad I managed to get a chance to put down a marker at the start of the season. I felt I put a pretty good foot forward.
“Now that Hoggy’s back fit, I think, throughout the season, you’re going to need more than one person playing a role.
“It’ll stand Glasgow in good stead and see both of us pushing each other on to make sure we play well when we play, otherwise the other guy will get a shot and get that crack at it. So I think it’s a good thing for both of us, definitely.”
Jackson was in the last Scotland squad for June’s summer tour.
He played at full-back as the Dark Blues lost 27-22 to Fiji and was a replacement for the historic 24-19 Sydney win over Australia – who Townsend’s men will meet in four weeks.
Jackson is pleased his proximity to Townsend has seen him selected again and hopes he can have a role in the upcoming internationals.
He said: “I’m definitely pleased. Chatting to the coaches and chatting to Gregor (Townsend), they’ve been happy with the way I’ve been playing and pushing for that role.
“I’m really looking forward to getting into that Scotland camp and feeling in good form and good fettle. Hopefully I push on and push forward and can play a role in some of the tests coming up.
“(The coaches) have more regular visits through and, come midweek, sometimes they will be here at (Warriors) training.
“Whether it’s Gregor or whether it’s Matt Taylor, the defence coach. So you’ve got constant contact with them, which is great.
“It was definitely still a surprise when I got the call-up. It’s still always one of those things where you’ve got doubts you’ll be in there, no matter how well you feel you’ve been playing yourself.
“So it was a real bit of excitement when I did get the call and saw my name on that sheet.
“I’m definitely feeling really good going into it – ready to push on.”