SCOTLAND lock Richie Gray has spoken of his anger and disappointment at the bans handed out to younger brother Jonny and hooker Ross Ford, who will miss the rest of the World Cup.
Gray senior is naturally protective of Jonny and admitted he had been upset by the three-week suspension meted out to the pair for an illegal two-man tip tackle on Samoa’s Jack Lam.
The Scots will battle the Wallabies for a place in the World Cup semi-finals at Twickenham tomorrow but will have to do without hooker Ford and lock Gray jnr.
An appeal against the “unduly harsh” suspensions will be heard at 10am in London today but it appears head coach Vern Cotter has given up hope of having either available for the Australia match after calling in Fraser Brown and Tim Swinson to take their slots.
If anyone in the Scotland squad can empathise with Jonny Gray it is Richie.
“When I heard the ban was given it was very upsetting,” Gray snr said yesterday. “On a personal front I feel for both guys and I feel for my brother. I just have to put that to the side and get on with things.
“Without going into it too much you feel a few things obviously... anger, disappointment. The reality is that you have you to get over it pretty quickly because there is a big game at the weekend. I don’t want to get too much into it. The big focus is the game at the weekend.”
Might the remainder of the squad use the perceived injustice to stoke the fires?
“We are disappointed to lose the guys,” replied Gray, “but we have to come together and put in a performance for ourselves. [And] for these guys. We don’t want to let ourselves down.”
That Scotland will miss Jonny Gray is a given but perhaps even they don’t realise just how much the 21-year-old contributes. He is the second top tackler in this World Cup with 49 tackles, just behind Japan’s Michael Leitch on 51, and Richie will have to shoulder some of his brother’s workload.
In the absence of Jonny, big brother gets to call the lineouts, which just adds to the weight on his shoulders, but he talked up the contribution from his brother’s replacement Swinson who brings his own skill set.
“Swinno is a real physical player, you give him the ball, he carries hard, hits boys in defence and smashes rucks,” Gray said. “So he’s just a good all-round, hard working second row.”
Scotland, meanwhile, have called Edinburgh prop Rory Sutherland into the squad as a replacement for Ryan Grant who suffered a hamstring injury in training this week that has ruled him out of the remainder of the tournament.