ASOLID hour of rugby and a thumping victory.
A clever solo try for good measure. Pretty much the perfect comeback, you might think. But as dusk fell over Malleny Park on Saturday evening, Rory Lamont wasn't just thinking about his 60-minute dream return, rather the 11-month nightmare from which he has just emerged.
Capped 29 times as winger and full-back, he helped Dundee High defy their lowly league position with a 35-12 RBS Premiership win over Currie. A glutinous pitch in the Edinburgh suburbs might seem an unlikely setting for a man who was basking in Mediterranean sunshine among the Galacticos of Toulon little more than a year ago, but Lamont could not disguise his delight to be there.
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"It has been a long time," he said with a smile. "Over the past 11 months there have been some really tough days, so I'm just delighted I can take to the field.
"I really enjoyed it. This was more than enough for where I'm at. I certainly didn't feel that I was stepping down to anything. I'm just happy to get that game time."
Lamont hit the headlines three times last season. First, frustrated with the way he was being treated at Toulon, he packed his bags and headed back to Glasgow. Second, he posted a few ill-advised remarks on Twitter, calling Barack Obama a "whore" for his relations with Wall Street. Finally, he suffered a horror injury half-an-hour into Scotland's RBS 6 Nations match against France at Murrayfield.
Twisted in a tackle as he caught a kick-off, Lamont's fibula shattered just above the ankle. It looked serious as he lay on the pitch, an impression confirmed two days later when, after surgery, Scotland team doctor James Robson said that he would probably be out of action for three to four months. But things would become a whole lot worse.
"The low points were pretty miserable," he said, shaking his head at the memory. "There is a lot of solo work. You see the boys enjoying training together. It is a long time to feel excluded from what's going on."
Like Chris Cusiter before him, Lamont's rehabilitation unfolded as a series of false dawns. Every time he felt progress being made, something set him back.
"If everything had been straightforward it probably would have been four or five months. Unfortunately, there was further damage that took a while to spot. I got back running, but it was painful. I went back to see a specialist and he found more damage, so I had more surgery a couple months ago. It seems to have resolved the issues.
"There were setbacks a few times. Even after the operation a couple months ago there was a bit of inflammation and I had to take a steroid to settle things down.
"At this stage of my career, to have an injury that takes 11 months, there are a lot of dark days. The hardest part is when you just don't know where you stand. Are you going to have to start preparing for life after rugby? It's something all players have to deal with, but I'd like to play for a few more years and I feel I have that potential."
Had the gravity of his situation been known, it is unlikely that Glasgow would have registered Lamont for this season's Heineken Cup. That they did, however, means Warriors coach Gregor Townsend could call on his services for next Friday's match with Ulster at Ravenhill or the Scotstoun match against Northampton the following weekend.
Lamont said: "I'm just taking each day at a time. If Gregor decides to give me some game time I am not going to complain. It has been such a long time, I'm desperate to be involved. I've a lot of friends at Glasgow and it's tough when you're doing rehab on your own."
Townsend watched Saturday's match at Malleny Park in the company of Scotland caretaker coach Scott Johnson, and if he decides he can do without Lamont's services there is also the prospect of another outing with Dundee, the team where his father and uncles once played, in the west country against the Cornish Pirates in the British & Irish Cup next Sunday.
"They were delighted to find out about game time with [Dundee]," he added. "I was really nervous. I've concentrated on learning to run again over the last few weeks. It's going to take time to get the skills sharp and my fitness up. I just wanted to do the basics well and not let the boys down."
INTERVIEW Winger delighted to play again