Scotland lock Richie Gray has vowed to fight “fire with fire” as England look to re-establish themselves as a pack power to be feared in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup opener in the RBS Six Nations at BT Murrayfield.
New England coach Eddie Jones has set out his stall in terms of returning England to its traditional strengths in set-piece and Gray, who is likely to be named alongside his brother Jonny when coach Vern Cotter reveals his team today, is braced for a fearsome battle.
“England will try to rough us up in the pack, they’ve certainly said in the press that’s what they want to do,” said the 26-year-old.
“They’ll try to dominate that area. The first thing Eddie Jones wanted to do was ensure he had a strong pack and build on it. We will fight fire with fire, you have to do that.
“If you’re defending a line out you have to fight fire with fire. We will make sure we’re ready for it.”
Gray, who will leave Castres for Toulouse at the end of the season, said he was relishing being back home among family and compatriots.
“I am always delighted to come back into camp because it’s great to see my brother and all the boys again,” he said. “It’s a great buzz to be back in the squad and we’re all the same, we really can’t wait to get going. I always think it’s nice to come back to Scotland then I find it’s raining and blowing a gale. I then think straight away about being back in France.
“But no, I do I miss being back home, I miss being with the boys, I miss being in this environment.”
Gray says it is a camp that is brimming with confidence off the back of their exploits at the World Cup, where the lock forward was back to his best form.
“Things went well in the World Cup and we came close to a semi-final but the manner in which we played throughout was pleasing,” he said.
“We played our brand of rugby, the game we wanted to play, and I think that was important.
“It was high tempo, pretty ferocious stuff at times and by and large we were happy with how it went. We are conscious though that we have to make improvements.”
After years of underperforming in the Six Nations, that World Cup has raised hopes that Scotland can finally make a mark on the competition and Gray added: “I think we can be competitive this year.
“As a group we’ve been together a while and building up to the World Cup we got to know each other better. There is a bond there now.
“It’s all about confidence. A large chunk of the boys play for Glasgow and Edinburgh and I think there’s a far better understanding between us now.
“We’re all looking forward to the weekend. What a challenge and what an opportunity for the team to go out against England in the opening game.
“From a team point of view I would love to do something in a Scotland jersey. I would love to go out and see us challenge for the title at the end of the championship.
“That would be brilliant and I genuinely believe we have the players and the staff who can do it. I believe our time is now. We’re certainly close without getting too carried away.”