WITH their opening friendly against Newcastle Falcons now only a day away, the Glasgow squad have just about got over the bulk of the pre-season grind.

It is never the most enjoyable time of year for any player as they labour to regain peak fitness, and the general rule is that the bigger you are, the more uncomfortable you feel at first.

Which would make it fair to suggest that Lewis Bean, for one, dreads this period of preparation. Yet the second-row forward - 6ft 6in according to some sources, 6ft 8in according to others, but a beefy tower of a man however you look at it – is just about the last member of the Warriors squad who would complain about the rigours of training at this time of year. And if any of his team-mates are minded to bemoan their lot, the 29-year-old can quickly remind them that there are harder things in life they could be doing instead.

Now a full-time Warrior after being with the squad for a time last season on loan from Northampton Saints, Bean has spent most of his adult life so far as a soldier and is still attached to 2nd Battalion, the Rifles, for some duties. Having joined up around a decade ago, he went on to do two tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he had experiences that put the odd bit of training-session discomfort into perspective.

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“My first tour was in Helmand Province back in 2011,” Bean recalled yesterday at the Warriors’ kit launch for the new season. “And my second tour, I think it was three years later, was in Kabul. So it’s quite interesting listening to the news about places I’ve been and it’s now all over-run - it’s pretty crazy.

“In 2011 we were down in Helmand, trying to push the Taliban out. 2011 was pretty full on, if I’m honest.

“It was pretty scary. I think I was 19 when I went over there. There are so many contacts – which are fights – out there that you get used to it.

“We lost lads out there. It is pretty tough. But obviously you’ve got a job to do out there and you just get on with it really. It’s not nice when lads get hurt or get killed, but you just kind of crack on and get through it.”

On his second tour, Bean’s role was more about helping to train the Afghan army rather than confronting the Taliban directly. That army no longer exists, and, while loath to become too involved in a discussion about the politics of the country, he admitted that recent events have been dispiriting, to say the least.

“I don’t really know what to say,” he continued. “I think it’s a bit of a shame really. All the hard work that was put in and all the money that was spent and lives lost, it’s a bit of a shame. But people get paid a lot more money than me to make bigger decisions than me. I just had to do what I’m told. It’s a bit frustrating, but at the end of the day it’s just one of those things.”

Work as a soldier is clearly far more a matter of life and death than is the daily lot of a rugby player, as Bean reminds any team-mates who start to flag during training. “I try and shed some light on it, and say ‘Look, it’s not that bad, it’s only for a couple of hours’,” he said when asked how he deals with them. “Pre-season is tough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and you get fed every day and you get looked after, so it’s actually pretty good.

“In the Army, basic training is non-stop. You can never relax. When I joined up at 18 it was a big shock. You’re literally at the mercy of the instructors and you can’t switch off and you’re getting absolutely thrashed.

“I was actually going to leave at one point. But I was just like ‘You know what? I’m going to stick with it.’ And I’m glad I did.”

One reason for that gladness is his belief that habits and values he acquired in the Army still stand him in good stead.

“I think I’ve got a bit of leadership there, and probably a hard work ethic. No matter how tough it is going to be or how bad it gets on the pitch you just have to keep going and keep moving. I’ve been in some situations working with the Army and you’re always in a team.

“I think you bring a bit of humour as well. They’ve got to have a good laugh at work and try and make people smile. If people are not happy being there, then what’s the point in doing it?”