When DTH van der Merwe was told in February that his season was over he was so shocked that he needed to remove himself from the situation.

What he initially thought was a routine injury turned out to be a much more serious problem, taking the disappointment felt following his involvement in the second of Glasgow’s three season-defining losses to Saracens to a new level.

“It was tough to take, so I went away for a couple of weeks with the family trying to clear my head,” he said.

“It was tough to go into that Saracens game and then getting the tough result and then a blow. I didn’t think it was that much at the time, I finished the game, but then they said `No, you’ve got to fix your shoulder’. I was gutted about that.”

Once he was in a position to do something about it, however, the perspective of the South African-born, Canadian international winger quickly changed.

“After the surgery, I’ve had a few of them now, I promised myself I was going to do everything I could to try and get back this season. Just smash my rehab,” he said.

“Coming out of the sling I thought I was really doing well. Then the surgeon, said we can’t hold you back, so I was, okay then.

“They had said the chance (of playing again this season) was gone, there was no chance, but coming out of my sling I had quite good range and then after the first couple of weeks of rehab you have a follow-up appointment and again after four weeks and eight weeks.

“I was already doing things I wasn’t supposed to be able to do so the surgeon said just carry on with the rehab, push harder. It’s been brewing for a little while now. Eight weeks post-surgery I knew my goal was to get back for the semi-final. The team still had to make it by that time, but we set the goal pretty early.”

The result is that, as Glasgow Warriors head into the Pro14 play-offs in which there is an opportunity to gain some consolation for the latest failure to make a significant impact in the Champions Cup, his involvement is the equivalent of having a new signing of the highest calibre and far from feeling rusty, the world class winger is fresh and raring to go.

“We run our strength and conditioning for the return to play guys and, I tell you what, we train harder than the guys on the field,” van der Merwe claimed.

“There’s not a day go by that we don’t do skills, all kind of crazy catch stuff to keep your eye in and that will help me transition to the field. I’ve been training with the team now for three weeks, so it’s been easy to integrate.”

While he was close to being fit for the final scheduled Pro14 match of the season against Edinburgh last month, discretion prevailed in the knowledge that there would be a minimum of an extra two weeks and, as it turned out, three to ensure that he was 100 percent ready.

“I’m ready to play. Ticked all the boxes. Over the last two weeks the monitoring we’ve been doing I’ve been steadily getting my load up, double sessions, stuff like that,” he said.

At the ripe old age of 33 there is also an awareness that there will not be many more opportunities to be involved in knockout matches with the prospect of picking up silverware and, having experienced great days in being part of Pro12 winning teams with both Glasgow in 2015 and the Scarlets two years later, van der Merwe’s excitement at least matches that of any of the younger men in the squad.

“It gives me goosebumps thinking about it now,” he said.

“It means so much to me, you want to be part of the big games, part of something special that can happen here.

“I’ve gone to a final and sat in the stands, (when Glasgow lost the Pro12 final to Leinster in 2014). It’s tough sitting in the stands watching the guys play and we obviously didn’t win that game.

“In 2015 of course I came back after being on the bench (for the semi-final) and we won that and then with Scarlets I was off the bench again.

“I would hate to have the feeling just to be in the stands. You still feel tight with the boys and you deserve your winner’s medal, but there’s nothing better than being in the field.”