Richie Gray signs three-year Castres deal

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SCOTLAND lock Richie Gray has confirmed that he will leave Sale for Castres this summer after agreeing a three-year deal with the French club.

The 23-year-old made the surprise move to the English Premiership strugglers last summer from Glasgow when it was known that leading French and English sides were queuing up for his services. However, after a demoralising season for the Manchester club, currently 11th in the Premiership, Gray will follow Nathan Hines, Jason White, Johnnie Beattie and Montpellier-bound Jim Hamilton in crossing the Channel.

It has been a troubling period for Gray, who suffered a torn hamstring during Scotland’s 28-18 defeat by Wales in the recent RBS Six Nations Championship, which also threatened his hopes of a place on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour.

He was told he would be out for two months and is yet to return to the Sale line-up, but he was put through a stringent medical assessment at Murrayfield last week by Scotland and Lions team doctor James Robson and The Scotsman understands that he was given the thumbs-up to be named today in the Lions squad. Gray knows it is far from guaranteed, but is more hopeful now than when he left Murrayfield on a medical cart.

“I do feel I have a shot at being fit enough to go to Australia, if selected,” he said recently, “but I’m not going to push things if I’m not 100 per cent fit. I am still just 23 and would like to think if I don’t make this tour there will be others ahead for me.”