Jonny Gray’s heart belongs to Glasgow

Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THERE was a bit of speculation about Jonny Gray’s contract with Glasgow Warriors running out this summer and the possibility of a big spending outfit in England or France enticing him away with a lucrative offer – but, in the end, there was a sense of inevitability about the 23-year-old second-row committing two more years to his home-town club, in a deal which will run until at least May 2020.

While Gray dismisses out of hand the most persistent rumour that he was on the verge of throwing his lot in with free-spending Bristol, he does acknowledge that there were other offers. Nothing, however, could tempt him away from the place where he believes his rugby development has the best opportunity to flourish.



“There was interest from other clubs but Bristol was not one of them,” he stated. “I am very happy to be at Glasgow. It is a place I love, it is the place I am from with family and friends. I feel when I run out I represent more than just myself.”

“Cambuslang, the club that got me here, I represent them. My family, my friends, my Gran – when I go out it gives me a real buzz to play in front of them. And the fans – they are crazy, mental. It is great. When you speak to them, they are just good people.”

Generally, Gray and Glasgow Warriors are a great fit. He wants to be the best player he possibly can be and the club is structurally geared to facilitate that. He can run himself into the ground in every game he plays because Scottish Rugby protocol will ensure he gets sufficient rest in between times to keep him fresh and fully fit.

He has no desire to test himself in another environment, because he already knows what he is all about. He understands his strengths and is acutely aware of his limitations, and he recognises that playing at Glasgow presents the best avenue to continuing his own rugby development.

With less than two years to go to the next World Cup he doesn’t need the physical and psychological stress of a club coaching structure which will regard international call-ups as a major inconvenience. By re-signing with Glasgow, he has ensured that he is in a set-up where club and international coaches will work hand-in-hand to ensure that he is properly looked atyer and able to deliver when it matters most.

“I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s great the coaches we’ve got here because they can sit down and give you one-on-ones and provide advice on what you need to work on,” he explained. “You get Dan [McFarland – the Scotland forwards coach] coming in to work on line-out stuff – which might be minor detail – but it’s all part of a great environment.”

“The physios mean you get very well looked after.  The same with the strength and condition guys, when I had my wrist injury at the start of the season I got to sit down with them and set my own goals, it was one of those conversations about where they thought I was and where I thought I was. It was great to hear different ideas, some things did not work, some did.”



 

Their recent European travails demonstrated that, like Gray, Glasgow Warriors remain a work in progress. After back-to-back losses to Montpellier in the Champions Cup they will welcome a return to Guinness Pro 14 action this weekend, where life has been much easier so far.

The fact that they are up against arch-rivals Edinburgh in the first of tree 1872 Cup clashes this season adds an extra dash of spice to the occasion, and Gray knows that his side will have to be at somewhere close to their best if they are to extend their winning streak in the league at the start of this season to 11 from 11 games.

“It’s going to be a big game. It’s very exciting. When you look at Edinburgh and the quality they’ve got and how well they’ve gone – they play some class rugby and are firing at the moment – so it is going to be very tough, but we’re looking forward to it,” he concluded.

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About David Barnes 2971 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.