Ryan Wilson eyes Scotland recall - and duel with Blade Thomson could help his cause
The Glasgow Warriors stalwart will be keeping an eye on Monday’s announcement when national coach Gregor Townsend will reveal his squad for the autumn Test programme which includes a Six Nations match against Wales postponed from last season as well as the new Nations Cup.
Wilson has the opportunity today to stake his claim for a Scotland recall when Glasgow host Scarlets in round two of the new Guinness Pro14 season.
It’s a game that pits him against Blade Thomson, his international team-mate and rival who, coincidentally, also last played for Scotland in that gut-wrenching defeat to Japan in Yokohama a year ago on Tuesday.
It was a match that ended Scotland’s World Cup at the group stage and led to much soul-searching. Changes were made for the Six Nations and neither Wilson nor Thomson were named in the squad.
Twelve months on and Covid has changed the landscape considerably. The season is in its infancy and you sense that much is up for grabs in terms of selection, with Townsend expected to name a big squad to cope with a gruelling autumn schedule and the likelihood of disruption caused by coronavirus.
Both men are picked at blindside flanker for this evening’s game at Scotstoun in a fascinating match-up, though Wilson insists the prospect of playing against Thomson is not something that fires him up.
“I wouldn’t say I really think about it like that,” he said. “I don’t fire up more for him. I try and approach every game the same way. Listen, I get on with Blade - he’s a really good bloke and a really good rugby player.
“Obviously when we’re out on the field I’ll be wanting to outdo him because 1) it will help us win the game and beat them for Glasgow, and 2) yeah, it’ll probably cement my place ahead of him for Scotland.
“So, there’s probably something like that in the back of my mind but I don’t really read too much into it. I approach the game as it comes and they’ve also got some really good back rows in there which we need to look out for some - some dangerous jackal threats.
“If you start focussing on single battles like that, that’s when you’ll come unstuck.”
Wilson’s focus will be on beating Scarlets after last weekend’s narrow loss to Connacht but he admits he is still hankering over a Scotland recall.
“I’d like to say it wasn’t on my radar but it’s something I love doing and would love to be back a part of,” added the 31-year-old.
“If the time comes to get back to Scotland then I will definitely grab it with both hands because I’d love to be back in there.”
New Glasgow coach Danny Wilson has worked with both players and expects Wilson will be a little more focused on Thomson than he is letting on.
“You know Ryan, those one and one battles are something he really relishes,” said Wilson. “Blade’s a quality rugby player but so is Ryan and they’re very similar in many ways, both athletic and good lineout forwards. It’ll be a good battle and head-to-head.”
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