McDonald back in business as Glasgow chase top three
The game face was very much firmly fixed in place, but Kiran McDonald must have been smiling on the inside when he ran onto the Scotstoun pitch last Friday night.
Sidelined since early December, the former Glasgow Hawk entered the fray with 25 minutes remaining to help the hosts to a vital 30-25 victory over the Ospreys, keeping Danny Wilson’s men in the hunt for that all-important spot in the top three of Conference A.
For McDonald, though, the result was just that little bit sweeter after having to take extra care on his road to recovery.
“I’d been out since the Exeter game, and then I picked up a concussion in training just as I was coming back which put me on the sidelines for a couple of months,” the second-rower told glasgowwarriors.org.
“I’d never really had a bad concussion in my career before – I’d had a few head knocks but I’d always been through the protocols and back to training in no time and feeling fine. This time, though, it was a pretty serious one.
“I just had headaches all the time, and weirdly felt quite emotional a lot. I had quite a strong sensitivity to light, too, and I couldn’t run for a prolonged period without getting a sore head. I had to get to a level where I was comfortable running without getting a headache before I could come back to training.
“It was frustrating, because you see your mates out training and you want to be a part of that. It’s been tough, but you take no risks with a head injury.”
Clearly enjoying being back in full training, the second-rower laughs when asked to reflect on his time on the touchlines. Normally an easy going character away from the action, it’s clear that it’s not a personality trait that translates well to watching from the stands.
“I have to watch games regardless of who we’re playing, I can’t sit back and not watch!” admitted McDonald.
“It’s frustrating when you can’t be out there doing your bit. We’ve been in close games that we should have won, and unfortunately the result’s gone against us. You just wish you could be out there helping the team.
“It was really good to get back into the swing of things and get a good run. To get the opportunity to come on against the Ospreys and get a good chunk of game time – I think it was about 20 minutes – felt really good. I’ve had some good feedback from the coaches in defence and attack too, so it’s good to be back.”
There was one benefit of watching on TV along with the rest of the Warrior Nation, however. Having had a behind-the-scenes pass to their development through training at Scotstoun, McDonald has been just as impressed as the watching supporters with the performances of the club’s young talents.
Still just 26 himself, the second-rower might now be slotting into the middle of the Warriors’ age-range, but it’s an adjustment he has no problem in making.
“These guys have been training unbelievably well, but until you see them in a game you don’t have the full picture,” said McDonald.
“Rufus [McLean], Ollie [Smith], Cole [Forbes], Ross [Thompson], Gregor Brown – these young guys have done absolutely phenomenally this season. As soon as they’ve been put in the deep end they’ve just flourished.
“Ross in particular has really stood out – two Player of the Match awards in your first five or six games is just unheard of! Hats off to them because they’ve played so well.”
Whilst the club’s future is undoubtedly looking rosy, it’s the present matter of two must-win matches that occupies the immediate focus of McDonald and his team-mates.
The second-rower is ready to do whatever it takes to help his side seal third place, as Heineken Champions Cup qualification lies within reach for the Scotstoun side.
“I want to play as much rugby as I can. If that means starting or coming off the bench, then so be it – I just want to be involved,” he said.
“You definitely want to be starting, though, so that’s what I’m going to aim for. I want to show the coaches what I’m capable of and earn that starting shirt.
“We’re coming off the back of two good wins, and we still know there are things we need to improve upon. That puts the squad in a really good position – when you win, it’s easy to come in and motivate yourself for the next game.
“Everyone’s tails are up, we know how important the next two games are, and we want to get that top-three place.”