High-flying Gray ready for next test
2021 might still be in its infancy, but anyone watching last weekend’s 1872 Cup opener was left in no doubt about one thing – Richie Gray is back with a bang.
Having spent the majority of the preceding three months on the sidelines after sustaining a concussion against the Scarlets in October, the second-rower showed no signs of ring-rustiness at the home of Scottish rugby in a display that had pundits and supporters alike purring with approval.
“I was chuffed to be back out there with the boys,” Gray told glasgowwarriors.org.
“The result didn’t go our way but I enjoyed the game – it was pretty attritional, so I enjoyed the chance to get out and get stuck into Edinburgh. Hopefully this week we get the result as well as the performance.”
Standing as the tallest player in club history at 6’10”, the man from Rutherglen served a reminder to the Warrior Nation as to his lineout prowess; a dominant aerial display saw Gray register a Guinness PRO14-leading four lineout steals, earning him a place in the competition’s Team of the Week for Round 10.
Yet whilst the 2013 British and Irish Lion earned many of the plaudits for his eye-catching work, the man himself insists it was a team effort from the Warriors pack.
“We work a lot on our defensive lineouts during the week, so we put the time in thinking about what might be coming our way,” explained Gray.
“Saturday was obviously a great one for us in terms of disrupting their ball. It’s luck of the draw sometimes, though, and you’ve got to be alive to react to what happens.
“It was really satisfying to see it come off as well as it did for us – everyone was switched on and played their part, and it was a real team effort.”
Gray was also effusive in his praise for his second-row partner-in-crime Scott Cummings, who marked his first match since agreeing to a contract extension with a trademark all-action display.
“Scott’s a fantastic player, and a fantastic guy as well,” said Gray.
“I’m over the moon that he’s re-signed with Glasgow – it’s a real coup for the club. He’s been outstanding over the last couple of seasons and I really like the way he plays.
“He hits the line at pace, carries really well and he’s the guy that’s calling the shots at the lineout. I love playing alongside him.
“The lineout’s been performing pretty well, and a lot of that is down to Scotty’s calling. There’s a good group of guys who’ll have their say depending on who’s playing, like myself, Ryan [Wilson], Rob [Harley] and so on, but at the end of the day the final decision is Scott’s. He’s been leading it really well this season and long may it continue.”
The immediate focus for Gray and his Glasgow team-mates, however, is reversing last weekend’s result when Edinburgh arrive at Scotstoun this evening. Having identified the areas requiring improvement in the wake of Saturday’s defeat, the second-rower believes the squad will need no extra motivation going into tonight’s encounter.
“The two big areas for us have been the scrum and the penalty count,” said Gray.
“We need to improve there – we didn’t play too badly overall last week and we were in a position where we could have won the game, but our discipline let us down. That needs to improve and it starts with tonight.
“Edinburgh matches are always special. Even at the weekend without fans, there was something unique about the atmosphere. I’ve got no doubt it’ll be the same again at Scotstoun tomorrow night, regardless of how cold it might be!”