Grant GILCHRIST has hit back at critics who claimed Scotland’s rugby team accepted last month’s Autumn Test defeats – particularly the 21-15 loss to Tonga – too readily.
The 22-year-old Edinburgh second row came closer than ever before to a debut cap when he was kept on the bench throughout the Tonga clash in Aberdeen.
He insisted: “Even the unused substitutes were hurting as we felt part of it. I was attached to the team for the three matches and know the players were absolutely gutted. They were hurting more than anybody.”
Gilchrist is expected to be back in the frame for Edinburgh’s Heineken European Cup clash with Racing Metro in Paris on Saturday.
And he is keen to demonstrate the extra skills he feels he has acquired through top-level involvement. “Immediately after the final whistle against Tonga, I was really disappointed not to have got on the pitch for a cap,” he continued.
“But I quickly began to focus on the positives, which included the tremendous amount of extra knowledge I had picked up and the even greater hunger I had after being so close. What matters now, though, is getting an Edinburgh shirt on and starting to win games again.”
Gilchrist was part of the side which won home and away against Racing during last season’s march to the semi-final. The game at Murrayfield last term saw Edinburgh claim a nerve-shredding 48-47 win, before a 27-24 victory in Paris.
Gilchrist is hoping for a better defensive showing this time round, although he doesn’t expect last season’s encounters to have any real bearing on proceedings this weekend. “Conceding 47 points in any game didn’t say a lot for our defence, even if we did win the match,” he said. “One aim is to defend properly against them this time.
“The reality is that Racing Metro are a quality side, as shown by their win over Munster. They’ve changed a lot since we played them last year and so have Edinburgh. So comparisons won’t really be valid.
Gilchrist, who wants to take his Heineken European Cup appearances into double figures – all starts – on Saturday, added: “I just want to regain a place and hopefully play my way back into the Scotland set-up having hopefully not done myself any disservice over the Autumn series.”