Not long after defence coach Matt Taylor told the media that he didn’t know what the players would make of Gary Graham’s public comments earlier in the year, a player was duly presented.
It fell to young flanker Jamie Ritchie to field the question about the response to Graham’s remarks about wanting to “shove Scotland’s face in it” after his call-up to the England Six Nations training squad and how he felt more English than Scottish. “To be honest the first time I was aware of it was when you guys were speaking about it five minutes ago,” was Ritchie’s reply. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, I’ll wait until I meet him and get a feel for him. If he’s here, he’s here for a reason.
“It’s easier to judge a person when you’ve met them, and this will be the first time I’ve met Gary properly. I think I played against him when he was playing for Gala and I was playing for Heriot’s when I’d just joined Edinburgh.
“It will be good to get to know him. He most likely deserves to be here if he’s been selected. I’m sure there will be a few gags about it.”
Openside Graham’s decision to join up with the squad has implications for Ritchie, of course, who has started in the back row in the past two Scotland Tests, scoring a try on his home debut in the weekend’s 54-17 thrashing of Fiji. “Yes but hopefully that competition makes you a better player,” was Ritchie’s equally diplomatic response.
The Edinburgh 22-year-old was much happier to reflect on his dream day at BT Murrayfield as he dived over from close range to join Adam Hastings in marking a first home Test with a try. “Obviously I’m delighted. Murrayfield was amazing,” he said. “It’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid. To be able to experience that was unbelievable.
“To get a wee try, from 50 metres out I think it was… was great! It’s hard to put it into words.”
Ritchie swapped flanks on the scrum at the weekend but is still adamant he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as an open or blindside. “It was actually funny, because the only thing that changed in my role in the game from Wales to Fiji was the number on my back,” he explained.
“In terms of in the lineout and all the moves that we ran, none of my moves actually changed.
“I try and do similar things whether I’m playing 6 or 7.
“So out-and-out 7? I don’t know. A good back-rower, hopefully.”