Richie Gray won't turn his back on Scotland, despite recent withdrawals from Gregor Townsend's plans

Richie Gray insists that the door to adding to the 67 caps he has accumulated so far for Scotland remains ajar, despite his decision to make himself unavailable for the national team’s recent Autumn Test series.

The 32-year-old made his Scotland debut back in 2010 but has managed only three appearances off the bench for the national team since Gregor Townsend became head coach in the summer 2017.

While injury issues have contributed to his lack of international appearances during the last four years, Gray was fit but turned down two separate invites to be part of Scotland’s 2019 World Cup training squad because he did not feel he could commit to being away from his family during the build-up and duration of the tournament.

Speaking about his decision not to be involved in the most recent Scotland squad, the Glasgow Warriors second-row explained that he has reached the stage of his career where he needs to manage his body if he is going to be able to deliver the required level of performance on the park.

Warriors Richie Gray during a Glasgow Warriors training session at Scotstoun Stadium, on November 30, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“I had [ankle] surgery in the summer, didn’t take a huge amount of time off and worked pretty hard to get back fit,” he said. “Then I went seven games on the bounce with Glasgow at the start of the season, so I just felt I was in a place where I needed a bit of a break before going again.

“I had some good conversations with the management, and they respected my decision. There are more conversations to be had, so we’ll see what happens going forward.”

Gray’s size and experience would have been particularly helpful to Scotland this Autumn with the squad already missing a number of leading second-rows through injury. His brother, Jonny, has been out of action all season with a shoulder problem, Ben Toolis is till two months from fitness following a knee injury, and Scott Cummings only came back into contention for the final match of the series against Japan following surgery on his arm at the start of October.

Gray admits that the prospect of lining up alongside his fit again brother when the 2022 Six Nations kicks off in February is tempting but says he doesn’t want to look too far ahead.

Richie Gray won't rule out a future Scotland return - but has to manage his body and recovery (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“Obviously, a bit of time has passed since we last played together so we will see what happens,” he said. “It would be great, but the focus is just to continue playing well for Glasgow and then take it from there. I know everybody says that, but I think it’s certainly relevant.”

Gray will be back on duty with Glasgow this Saturday evening, when he and his team-mates will look to bounce back from last weekend’s last-minute loss away to Benetton by picking up a home win over the Dragons.

“It will be a big game and a physical game, it always is with the Dragons,” he said. “Hopefully, we can put a few things right because everyone was pretty gutted about what happened against Benetton.

“We have been working hard on our discipline this week, and making sure we don’t take unnecessary risks.”

Warriors Richie Gray (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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