Prop Rory Sutherland says it is a “very special” feeling to represent Scotland again in the Guinness Six Nations after battling back from his injury troubles.
The Edinburgh Rugby front-rower’s four-year wait for a return to the international stage was ended when he faced Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Round One.
It was the same side Sutherland made his debut against in March 2016. Two more caps followed that year before his career was derailed by a serious groin injury which ruled him out for 14 months.
Sutherland admitted he was in a dark place as he had to learn how to walk again during his long road to recovery.
“Thinking back to that time it was tough,” Sutherland told the Scottish Rugby Podcast.
“After the first operation failed, I went home and the doctor said to give this the best chance (of recovery) you have got to do nothing for three months.
“Then I went into my rehabilitation stage and that was learning how to walk and run again.
“It was really hard and that whole transition from when it happened to stepping foot on the field again was a 14-month period.”
Sutherland slipped down the pecking order at Edinburgh but soon won over head coach Richard Cockerill before his performances in the Guinness PRO14 earned a recall to the Scotland set-up.
The 27-year-old has started in Scotland’s first three matches of this year’s Championship and is loving every minute of it.
“On a personal level being back at international level has given me a lot of confidence and belief that I can actually do it again,” Sutherland said.
“Having four years out was really tough.
“To make that breakthrough when I was 23 it was a dream.
“To then have that taken away from me after those three caps was very hard to take so being back here now is very special and I am enjoying it.”
Scotland bounced back from their defeats to Ireland and England in the opening two rounds with a 17-0 victory over Italy in Rome.
Gregor Townsend’s side are now gearing up to face leaders France on Sunday, March 8 and Sutherland is looking forward to test himself against the visitors’ powerful pack at BT Murrayfield.
“Every week has been a new challenge and France could be one of our biggest up front,” Sutherland said.
“But for me it’s just about backing up my performances and making sure I do my job for however long I am on the park.”