THERE is enthusiasm, and then there is Jonny Gray-level enthusiasm. Told to take six weeks’ rest after the World Cup, he was back in training with his club mid way through and admits that as frustrations built up he would much rather have been playing.

Which is typical of him. He has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest working players around and match-day is where he comes into his own and really starts to relish the challenge.

“I can’t wait to get back to playing,” he said. “I have been back in [training] the last two weeks and as soon as you get back in, you want to get back into playing.

“Now I have had the time off, it was good to switch off mentally. Physically, I was working with the coaches and trainers telling me what to do to keep ticking over and I feel good, the body feels good, mentally I can’t wait to get back in. I’ve been watching the boys here and feeling the buzz around the club and getting ribbed a lot for having extra time off.

“The boys have been playing well. It is great to be back in contention for this week, and it is good to be back around the guys again.”

Some of the enforced rest periods after the World Cup involved players who obviously needed a rest to recover from the physical and emotional damage the tournament had done but it was a surprise Gray was one of them. Though he was one of the most-used players in Japan, starting in three out of the four matches and playing the full 80 minutes in two of them, he had come into the tournament short of match time, after picking up a pre-season injury and making it back on to the field for a single half in the final warm-up game.

Despite that, he was one of those singled out for an extended break after the tournament was over, a decision, he admits, that even surprised him, though, now he has come through it, he accepts he may be grateful in the long run.

“It was a strange feeling, a lot of things going through your head after the World Cup disappointment. A lot of hurt and a lot of things to get through mentally so the first thing you want to do is get back playing,” he said. “I got told I had to rest and had to get my head round that. I made the most of my time and am grateful for that.

“It [after the World Cup] was a pretty dark time for everyone, as you can imagine. We went out there to do a job and didn’t. That was hugely disappointing and then we all got given individual plans and had to sit and work with that. Thankfully I could sit down with the coaches, trainers and rest to make a plan on how we could go forward. I feel in a good place now, it is good to be back and being made fun of – a lot. It is good training and getting back into it.”

Gray comes back at a crucial stage of Glasgow’s season. After defeats during the World Cup and losing away at Exeter in the Heineken Champions Cup last week, they are nearing a position where they cannot afford to lose any more games. Tomorrow’s reprise of last season’s PRO14 final, with Leinster playing in Glasgow, is a huge match, with league points and revenge both up for grabs.

“Leinster, you see every week how good they are and the depth they have in their squad,” Gray said. “The are first in our pool as well so we know how big a challenge it is going to be back here at home.”