Huw Jones was as frustrated as anyone in the Scotland camp with Sunday’s loss to Ireland, but his try could be an opening to restoring his position as one of the team’s main influencers.
The Glasgow centre has played mostly at full-back this season, and his play there was what got him noticed again by Gregor Townsend.
But off the bench for Chris Harris with 20 minutes left, Jones had an immediate impact with the score to kick-start Scotland’s comeback.
It was the 27-year-old’s first try for Scotland since 2018. He started with ten tries in his first 14 caps, but as he conceded himself, the attack side of his game has never been in question.
‘It was only a couple of weeks ago I got a game at centre again’
“It was pleasing obviously to get over the line and score a try, but it was a frustrating day on the whole squad,” he said.
“I have been working hard this season and played a lot at 15. It was only a couple of weeks ago I got a game for Glasgow at centre again.
“You just have to try to do the best you can with the opportunities you get. If my role in this squad is to come off the bench to make an impact then I have to try and take it.
“Chris is ahead of me at 13 for the last year or so and he has been playing really good rugby. I have to keep up my performances when there’s a chance to play at 13.”
‘I am grateful for the opportunity to play anytime’
Jones went from that flying start to not even making the plane for the Rugby World Cup in Japan. He had some thoughts that his time might have passed already.
“Certainly I have had frustrating times when I thought I might not get back in the squad. I am grateful for the opportunity to play anytime. It was quite a relief to get back on the score sheet again, as it has been a while.
“It is quite clear that my big strength is my attacking play. If I am firing and scoring tries that can only be good. For me to be playing my best I need to be attacking really well and creating.”
Jones is moving to Bayonne to try out Top 14 rugby next season but still hopes to be part of Scotland’s plans.
“I haven’t had any conversations with Gregor (about the move). But I would love to continue to stay in the picture for Scotland and continue to play.
“It is important for me to keep my performance levels to the highest possible levels so that when it comes around to select a squad, I am in the picture for that.”
Scott Cummings out, Zander Fagerson back
As feared in the aftermath of the Ireland disappointment Scott Cummings is out of probably the last two games of the championship. The lock suffered a fractured bone in his hand on Sunday.
Townsend has retained both Jonny Gray (shoulder) and Finn Russell (head knock) in the squad. He had admitted doubt to whether either could play against Italy on Saturday with the short turnaround.
Zander Fagerson, after serving a four-match suspension for the red card against Wales, returns to the squad. Uncapped Edinburgh back rower Ally Miller and full-back/wing Damien Hoyland, last capped in 2017, are also called up.
Glasgow wing Rufus McLean has been returned to the club this week with Cummings.