Simon Taylor is adamant he will be ready to play some part in this year’s Six Nations tournament but says it is too early to be thinking about the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
The 35-times capped Scotland international completed his first full half of rugby in almost a year on Wednesday night and he was upbeat about his chances of forcing his way back into the international fold.
Taylor, who was recently described as ‘the one truly world class player in Scotland’ by former captain Chris Paterson, has been through a traumatic year.
He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing against Ireland in the Six Nations last March, the second time in three years that he had seriously damaged the same knee, and his road to recovery has proved far from straightforward.
But after several setbacks, the 25-year-old is finally back on the pitch, some two months overdue, and he is relishing the prospect of getting involved in the international scene again.
Speaking tafter completing 40 minutes for Zurich Premiership side Saracens – who he has been on loan with for the last week – in a friendly game against Johannesburg-based Super 12 franchise The Cats, Taylor admitted there were times he feared his career was over.
Taylor, who was selected for the 2001 Lions tour to Australia when still a 21-year-old under-graduate at Edinburgh University, insists it is too early to be thinking of the summer tour.
"The Lions tour is not really in my mind at the moment, I am just so relieved to be back on the field and able to run about at the moment,’ he said.
Taylor, who surely would have won twice the amount of international caps had he not been bedevilled by injury throughout his career, admitted he endured some tough times during the 11 months of rehab he underwent after surgery on his knee.
"There were times with this injury when I thought I would never play again,’ he said.
"I suffered a foot injury and had a hamstring injury that was linked to the knee. At times I wondered if it was ever going to get better, so it really is such a relief now.’
Taylor’s next step back on the road to full fitness will be Edinburgh’s Celtic league clash with Leinster on February 18, and he hopes to get a start for the team who gave him his first professional contract in 2000.
"I will be hoping to start against Leinster,’ Taylor said.
"That will be a good opportunity for the boys who have been involved with the Scotland side to have a rest as well.’
If Taylor does complete a full 80 minutes for Edinburgh against the Irish province in eight days’ time, the temptation for Scotland coach Matt Williams to include him in the squad to face Italy on February 26 will be hard to resist.
And if he does make it back into the Scotland side before the end of the RBS
6 Nations, there will be one particularly interested observer – Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward.