IT felt like the good old days at Scotstoun on Sunday afternoon as Glasgow Warriors went toe-to-toe against one of the top teams in the league, and had the courage and punching power to deliver a knock-out blow right at the death.

Huw Jones being at the heart of the action – with a try and two assists in a man-of-the-match performance – was not quite so nostaligia-inducing given that his previous stint at the club never really got going. But it did bring back memories of his early days in a Scotland jersey, when he raced to 10 tries inside his first 14 internationals, including a breath-taking double as the national team claimed England’s scalp for the first time in 11 years at Murrayfield in February 2018.

At that stage, the world seemed to be his oyster, however a combination of injury and a lack of love from previous Warriors head coach Dave Rennie, leading to a dip in confidence and form, meant that Jones’ career began to flatline around 2019.

The emergence of Chris Harris as a defensive bulwark also contributed to Jones finding himself not quite falling off the international radar but certainly being pushed to the periphery, and his move to Harlequins last season definitely had an ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind’ effect on his profile in Scottish rugby.

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There was a distinct danger that his international career might slowly slip below the water level with the rest of us hardly noticing, but the man himself clearly had other ideas when he made the move back to Scotstoun during the summer, although he insists that it is still too early to be talking about a Scotland recall – after two long years in the wilderness – during the upcoming Six Nations.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about at the moment,” says the 29-year-old, who missed the first two and a half months of this season whilst recovering from two stress factors in his lower back.

“I’ve only had three games this season so it might be too early. Obviously, it would be great to be involved with Scotland again, but, at the moment, I’ll just try to string together a couple of games with Glasgow.”

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Jones marked his comeback from that back injury by scoring a try as Glasgow launched their Challenge Cup campaign with an away win against Bath back in early December, and he managed another 80-minutes and got on the scoresheet again as Warriors made it two from two in that tournament against Perpignan at Murrayfield six days later.

But head coach Franco Smith likes to keep his team on their toes by rotating his squad regularly, so he ended up sitting out the back-to-back wins over Edinburgh during the festive season, before returning at inside-centre on Sunday.

“It’s a little frustrating when you miss out on a game, but I’d come off the back of a six-month injury, and I was a bit banged up after Perpignan, so I was ready for a rest,” says the player. “Franco is smart in the way he is rotating us. Obviously, we all want to play, so the hope is we all get enough game time. I was happy to be back in the shirt on Sunday, for sure.

“The brand of rugby we’re trying to play – attacking, fast-paced – suits this whole group,” he adds. “We’re getting better at it, each day and each week in training we’re improving and that’s showing in the results as well. 

“Personally, I’ve improved as a player and my time at Quins was very valuable for me. Coming back, as I’ve been integrated into training, the coaching is really good, everyone is buying-in and the standard at training is a lot higher now than it was when I was previously at the club.”

Watching Jones in action on Sunday, you can’t help wondering what might have been had his development been handled a bit more conscientiously, but the player himself is not inclined towards naval gazing.

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“Across my game … it was refreshing to be with a new coaching staff, different players and different ideas,” he replies, when asked what he gained from his time playing in England. “I played with some quality players down there – a lot of the England boys – so it was good to learn from them.

“And I played a load of games – 26 – the most games I’ve ever played in a season,” he continues. “In my first stint up here, I didn’t really play the first three seasons. I’ve only just made my 50th appearance in five seasons! Whereas at Quins it was nice to just play loads, and I got better off the back of that.

“I’m a better player now than I ever have been. It’s pleasing for me. I’m happy with where I’m at but I want to keep improving and I’m sure I will, but where I am now, I’m better than I was when I was playing for Scotland back then and doing well. I now have more to offer.”