Six Nations: Fraser Brown on brink of 50th cap but just grateful to have made the grade

There was a time early in 
Fraser Brown’s career when he thought winning a single 
Scottish cap would be beyond him. There was even a spell last year when he thought his professional playing days might be at an end.

Scotland hooker Fraser Brown takes part in a training session at Oriam. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Instead, he is on the verge of making his 50th appearance for his country against France on Sunday, having not only overcome some serious injuries along the way but also recently rediscovered a fine vein of form.

Brown and former captain Stuart McInally have had a ding-dong battle for the 
No 2 jersey in this Six Nations, the Glasgow Warriors hooker having begun the games against Ireland and England, and McInally having regained the starting berth for the last outing against Italy. But, whether he is on the field or on the bench when the game kicks off against the French, Brown will simply be thankful for the chance to represent his country again.

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“It probably took me 20 caps to learn, it’s a bit corny, but every cap is a gift,” the 30-year-old said yesterday. “So every time you get in this environment it’s just an extreme privilege to be here. It doesn’t matter if someone’s on five or 105, the fact you get to play is just a massive honour for yourself.”

Notwithstanding that implication that every cap is of equal value, Brown admitted that this one will be a bit special. The fact that it will bring up the half-century is impressive in itself, but he is also entitled to reflect with pride on where he has got to after injuries threatened to nip his fledgling career in the bud.

“You approach it the same way [as every other game], but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big thing,” he continued. “Eight or nine years ago, I didn’t think I was going to get one, so the fact that I could get 50 at the weekend is a big deal for me and my family.

“I had a lot of injuries when I was younger – if you’re going through that and you still think you’re going to go on and play for Scotland then you’re probably a bit delusional. Even as recently as last summer, I thought I might not be getting another game of professional rugby with my foot injury, so to come back from that and be fit and playing reasonably well and in contention, it’s a decent achievement.”

The injury in question was suffered in Glasgow’s loss to Leinster in the Pro14 final last May, and Brown did not play again until Scotland’s first pool game in the World Cup, against Ireland. “It was a big injury. It took quite a while to come back from it in the summer and there were periods when myself and the medics maybe didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but that’s all water under the bridge now.

“It was my Lisfranc, which is a combination of ligaments and bones in your mid-foot which allow you to move and walk and run – I tore that, so I had to get an operation and got plates put in across the middle of my foot to hold it all 

Brown’s wife is due to give birth next week, so her attendance at the weekend is in doubt. But his parents will be there, hoping to mark the special occasion with a victory which would derail France’s Grand Slam bid. The hooker knows there could be extra pressure on the French but, after two defeats in his own team’s first three outings, he insisted that Scotland would also feel the need to perform.

“It could [put pressure on France], but there’s pressure on us as we’re playing at home. They try to start well and put teams under pressure, so that’s what I imagine they’ll try to do at Murrayfield.

“They haven’t won here since 2014, so they’ll know it’s not an easy place for them to win, but they’ll have the confidence to come here and develop the game they’ve been playing over the last three games.

“They’ll believe they can impose themselves on us, but we believe if we defend well and get in the right areas we can beat them.”


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