Ex-Scotland prop backs Richie Gray for RWC call-up

Former Scotland prop Ryan Grant believes that lock Richie Gray will feature in Scotland’s plans for the upcoming World Cup, despite being a surprise omission from the 44-man group.

The second-row has battled with injury over the past couple of years but has returned to action and featured in Toulouse’s Top 14 triumph, coming off the bench in the 24-18 victory over Clermont Auvergne.

Head coach Gregor Townsend initially named a squad of 42, leaving two slots open for others to prove themselves.

Many thought that Gray would be one of those to receive the call but it instead went to Scott Cummings and Kyle Steyn.

The 29-year-old therefore appears set to miss the global tournament in Japan but Grant insists that it would be a “mistake” should that happen.

“I think we’ll see Richie in and around the World Cup squad,” he told BBC Radio Scotland. “He’s a specimen. As good as the other second-rows are, no-one’s a 6ft 10in out-and-out athlete like Richie.

“He’s finding his old form again, especially watching the last 30 minutes of the Top 14 final. I think it would be a mistake not to at least bring him in.”

Richie Gray, Top 14 champion. In the nicest possible sense, I really hope he doesn’t end up getting the whole summer off (pic from Paris final by @CraigWatsonpix) pic.twitter.com/NP4QfIJSmU

— Mark Palmer (@MarkPalmerST) June 15, 2019

Gray has earned 65 caps for Scotland, mainly as a starter, but, following his injuries, the lock has had to be content with making an impact off the bench for Toulouse in the play-offs.

However, Grant believes that it is a role the second-row can fulfil for the national team, with his all-round skill set well suited to later on in the game.

He added: “The way the game’s going now, you pick guys especially for that reason, guys that can bring a huge amount of energy off the bench.

“That might be the position Richie finds himself in. His brother Jonny’s more of a grafter, the type of guy that does all the unseen work, you want him in for 80 minutes.

“Richie’s got a bit of flair, he’s got pace, he can handle the ball well, he’s got good off-loads, so he might fill that position.”