Win focus means 50th cap goes over Richie Gray’s head

Richie Gray at full stretch at St James' Park yesterday as he prepares to win his 50th Scotland cap. Picture: PA
Richie Gray at full stretch at St James' Park yesterday as he prepares to win his 50th Scotland cap. Picture: PA
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SCOTLAND lock Richie Gray played down the fact he will win his 50th cap tomorrow and insisted it will mean nothing if the team don’t get the win that secures a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

The 6ft 10in 26-year-old made his Scotland debut in 2010 and will partner his younger brother Jonny in the second row at St James’ Park against Samoa as he reaches the half-century milestone. However, in keeping with his laid-back personality, the Castres forward winced at the mere suggestion of any hoopla surrounding it. “I’ve not considered it,” he said. “Someone mentioned it today, I was aware of it but hadn’t thought about it too much. The reality is there are lots of things at the weekend more important that we’ve got to get through. There’s also a bigger milestone in the squad with Sean [Lamont] possibly getting to 100 anyway.”

It has been traditional for players winning their 50th cap to lead the team out ahead of the captain but Gray said: “I’m not particularly interested in that. If I’ve got to do it, I will, but I’m more interested in the game. They’ll maybe have to push me out the tunnel.”

Lamont, who is sitting on 99 caps, was named on the bench for tomorrow’s Pool B finale and Gray said of his potential century: “It’s incredible. He’s in a very small handful of people who’ve done that. An incredible achievement, the way he’s stuck in, his competitive nature has allowed him to be as good as he is.

“He is an incredible athlete, great guy and a lot of guys look up to him in the squad and take advice from him.

“There will be no celebrations until victory, he’d say the same thing. His focus is winning the game at the weekend and not getting carried away about cap milestones or anything else. I haven’t even thought about 50 caps, I’m not looking too much into it.”

Coach Vern Cotter also paid tribute to Lamont and said: “His first Test was against Samoa [in Samoa]. If he gets on the paddock it will be a big moment for him, his family and everyone who has been involved with him.

“It will be a great achievement if he gets out there, and Richie has his 50th Test as well. Those are things around the game that we are aware of. That is part of it and it will be acknowledged if it happens.”