Richie Gray says there are ‘conversations to be had’ about his Scotland future

Glasgow Warriors second-row says he is at the stage in his career where he needs to manage his body in order to perform at the highest level

Richie Gray
Richie Gray has agreed a new deal with Glasgow Warriors. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

RICHIE GRAY says that he has not given up on the prospect of adding to the 67 caps he has picked up for Scotland so far, but that will be subject to on-going conversations with national team head coach Gregor Townsend.

The Glasgow Warriors second-row has managed only three appearances off the bench for the national team since Gregor Townsend became head coach in the summer of 2017.

While injury issues have contributed to this situation, Gray did turn down two separate invites to be part of Scotland’s 2019 World Cup training squad because he did not feel he could commit to being away from his family, including his new-born son, during the build-up and duration of the tournament.


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He returned to the squad and played two matches off the bench during the 2021 Six Nations before missing the rest of he championship with a concussion, but then opted not to make himself available for the recent Autumn Test series.

“I had [ankle] surgery in the summer, didn’t take a huge amount of time off and worked pretty hard to get back fit,” he explained. “Then I went seven games on the bounce with Glasgow at the start of the season, so I just felt I was in a place where I needed a bit of a break before going again.

“I had some good conversations with the management, and they respected my decision. There are more conversations to be had, so we’ll see what happens going forward.”

Gray’s availability for Scotland this Autumn would have been a handy given that second-row were stretched. His brother, Jonny, was out with a shoulder issue (he is expected to make his first appearance of the season for Exeter Chiefs against Saracens on Saturday), Ben Toolis had a knee injury (he is still two months away from fitness), emerging trio Alex Craig (two caps), Cameron Henderson and Glen Young (both uncapped) were also unavailable, while Scott Cummings only came back into contention for the final match of the series against Japan after undergoing surgery in his arm at the start of October.

Gray admits that the prospect of linking up again with his brother when the 2022 Six Nations kicks off in February is tempting but says he doesn’t want to look too far ahead.

“Obviously, a bit of time has passed since we last played together so we will see what happens,” said the older sibling. “It would be great, but the focus is just to continue playing well for Glasgow and then take it from there.  I know everybody says that, but I think it’s certainly relevant.”

 

Gray added that he is feeling refreshed and energised after getting some time off and then a good block of training under his belt during the international window, although he concedes that Warriors’ return to United Rugby Championship action last Saturday did not go to plan, with the team surrendering a winning position against Benetton through three soft penalties during the last 90 seconds of the match.

“These things shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately sometimes they do,” he reflected. “We got into a good position to close out the game and then the penalty count was just far too high, which allowed Benetton to march up the pitch and get the points they needed without really doing a lot.”

It is not the first time in recent seasons that poor discipline has cost Warriors dearly, and head coach Danny Wilson will be hoping that his decision to bring referee Ben Blain in to work with the squad during training on Tuesday can help address the issue.

“We went 15-on-15, and he was pretty hot on things,” explained Gray. “He gave a bit of feedback as well.

“You train how you play. If you’re doing it in training, you’re going to do it at the weekend. So, we’re just trying to be squeaky clean.

“Sometimes scrum penalties are 50/50 and sometimes you go for a jackal and don’t get away with it. But it’s dumb penalties like high shots or coming through a line-out that we need to stop. It’s just stupid. It’s about how you eradicate them for the weekend.”

Next up is the Dragons at Scotstoun this coming Saturday night. “It will be a big game and a physical game, it always is with the Dragons,” concluded Ritchie. “Hopefully, we can put a few things right because everyone was pretty gutted about what happened against Benetton.

“But they are coming off a loss at home against Edinburgh so they will want to right that as well.”

 

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Scottish Rugby and Stirling County announce death of Scotland back-row Siobhan Cattigan

THE OFFSIDE LINE'S coverage of Glasgow Warriors is powered by MCCREA FINANCIAL SERVICES.

McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See www.mccreafs.co.uk to contact them for more information.
About David Barnes 3192 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.

11 Comments

  1. From what I’ve seen he hasn’t done much at all since returning to Glasgow, and it’s several years since he has played any meaningful role for Scotland.

    His brother, Skinner, Gilchrist, Sykes, Hodgson and Toolis are all ahead of him and Townsend would be better off giving any other opportunities that arise to the younger likes of Alex Craig, Andrew Davidson and Glen Young.

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    • Agree, he’s been relatively solid for Glasgow but not exactly pulling up trees outside of the line out. Just hoping that brother Jonny can get back to his best form. Also agree that letting Tim Swinson leave for ‘retirement’ is looking like a criminal act by Warriors.

  2. Some comments mentionned Tim Swinson, what a wwarrior he was in the Glasgow jersey!
    And still a tough performer in the English Premiership…
    I wonder why Glasgow did not keep him for another season.

  3. It will be interesting to see which of the younger guys puts in a claim to the jersey (by which I mean those yet to turn 25 and still to achieve the peak of their powers). Henderson already has 19 appearances for Leicester with four tries, although he is less prominent this season than at the end of last. Hunter Hill – at 24 it’s time to step up. I thought he had set the bar high for himself by moving to Saracens and you wonder whether more game time at another club would have benefitted his ambitions more. Swinson has been consistently good for them though and is proving he still has miles left on the clock – bet Wilson wishes he still had him! Darge the lock – what a great second row pairing he and the Mish would make!

  4. If there are conversations to be had, then at 32 he needs to hurry up and have them. A towering presence in the lineout, but for me he needs to do more around the park. Brother Jonny is mentioned, as are Toolis, Young, Craig, Cummings and Henderson (already a Leicester squad regular at age 21, he is the coming man). Add to them Gilchrist, the fast-improving Hodgson, Hunter-Hill (breaking into the Saracens squad) and Davidson (now a first team regular at Gloucester) and you can see that Richie has his work cut out to prove he is hungry enough. A truly great player in his time, he now needs to ask more of himself to get over the line. There is surely more left in the tank.

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    • I agree re Gray. 100%

      Hunter-Hill I had huge hopes for but he seems to have slipped in the pecking order at Saracen. Some old guy called Swinson still getting picked every week and turning out performances! Still time for CHH though. Henderson I’ve yet to be convinced, the coming man has arrived. He is the one Cockerill nicked from Glasgow to stack his already over full back row stocks. Everyone else knew Darge was a lock, and going to be a top one.

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