Glasgow Warriors have received an abundance of compliments across recent seasons but Huw Jones is under no illusions about what matters more - trophies. 

While Franco Smith’s debut campaign in charge at Scotstoun was unquestionably a success, it ultimately culminated in major disappointment with no silverware. Glasgow boasted an unbeaten record at home in the regular URC season but it didn’t continue into the quarter-finals when Munster proved too strong. 

The Warriors also embarked on an impressive run in the Challenge Cup as they reached the final in Dublin but French giants Toulon inflicted a painful defeat. Glasgow, however, entered this season full of optimism and they surged top of the URC after six games before defeat to Munster in their last league fixture.

Losing to Cork doesn’t represent disaster but an opening-day defeat in the Champions Cup to Northampton has ramped up the jeopardy ahead of Friday’s trip to Bayonne. 

“We probably need to announce ourselves in all competitions,” Jones replied honestly when asked if Glasgow needed to make a statement in European competitions. “We didn’t win the Challenge Cup, so we could’ve announced ourselves in that. We’ve not won the URC, so it’s not just the Champions Cup. If we want to think that we’re a top team then we need to be making finals of competitions and we need to prove that against the best teams. We should be in the playoffs in the URC at the end of the season.

“We did last year but we didn’t perform in the quarter-final and with the Champions Cup, you essentially need to win all your games. It’s against the top teams in Europe and teams will have bigger budgets and bigger squads. You’ve got to compete against them if you want to claim to be a top team. It would be nice to go for in the competition but we need to perform in the early stages.”

Expectation levels amongst Warriors fans have unquestionably risen following the promise and near-misses of last campaign. Glasgow want to their mark in the most prestigious club tournament but the disappointing end to the URC also lingers.

Talk is ultimately cheap for the impressive Jones, who speaks with authority and honesty when questioned about the plaudits that Glasgow has received. 

Asked if raised expectations can lead to increased pressure: “It can if people read into it but I don’t know if the guys do. I don’t read into it because you take it game by game. People spoke about how we had a good season last year but we didn’t win anything. We got to the final of the Challenge Cup and kind of got dominated. We didn’t show up in that game and we didn’t make the semi-final or final in the URC. As well as the regular season went, we had nothing to show from it so we didn’t enter this season thinking that we were any better than we are. We got into the Champions Cup because we performed well in the Challenge Cup. I don’t think we’ve got any expectations ahead of who we are but we want to keep improving and get good results.” 

Jones returned to action against Northampton after a troublesome foot issue kept him sidelined for six weeks. The initial diagnosis of the 29-year-old’s toe problem looked bleak for Glasgow but the severity of the complicated injury wasn’t as bad as initially feared and Jones returned ahead of schedule. 

“It was in my foot, but the umbrella term is a turf toe,” Jones explained. “There was slight damage and they call it an MTP sprain. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what it was, but it was sore and took a couple of weeks to settle down and build up strength again. Foot injuries can always take a while and it’s still sore when you’re back but you just need to manage it. It happened against Connacht in a tackle. It was good to train last week and it felt alright in the game but there were two little bits when it was sore. You’re going to get that in rugby because nobody is ever 100% - everyone is always carrying little knocks. You just need to manage as best as you can.

“The good thing about a short-term injury is that you get a bit of a rest. I should be raring to go and we try to manage our load the best we can. Recovery is obviously huge, especially in a long season and we get managed well so there’s no excuse not to be feeling good going into games.” 

“There’s ongoing rehab and strengthening on my foot. I don’t think anyone is ever 100% going into games - maybe just the first week of the season. You run out with no strapping then in week two you strap everything. It’s just one of those things because we are all working on something early in the morning on rehab progress. I probably won’t stop strengthening it (foot) and it’s an ongoing thing. You get to a point where you’re fit enough to train and play - I’m at that point.”