Bright future beckons for Gray
Glasgow lock can realise huge potential at World Cup
Last Updated: 01/09/11 10:31am
Gray: Bright prospect
The forthcoming World Cup represents a golden opportunity for Richie Gray to silence any remaining doubters once and for all.
One of Gray's fiercest critics, former England centre and TV pundit Jeremy Guscott, has already been forced to rethink his opinion of the giant lock.
And, at just 22-years-old, the Glasgow Warriors second row is poised to cement his place as one of Scottish rugby's stars of the future on the greatest stage of them all.
Back in February, on the eve of Scotland's Six Nations clash against France in Paris, Guscott infamously described Gray was as 'slow, cumbersome and like Bambi on ice'.
The 6ft 9in, 20st lock responded with a devastating display during the hard-fought defeat, running freely with ball in hand, thundering into rucks and swatting aside defenders.
So impressive was Gray's performance that even the normally fiercely partisan French crowd cheered for him as one of their own.
"It was great and was definitely my best performance yet," Gray said in an interview with The Scotsman newspaper. "But it might never have happened."
""It was one of those days where things happened for me. The result didn't go our way and I was disappointed that we lost, but personally it was a step up from me.
"There was a lot more interest from the media, here and abroad."
The interest however for the youngest member of Andy Robinson's World Cup touring party is to stake his claim in an experienced Scotland squad.
In only his third full season of professional rugby and with just 12 test caps his name Gray knows he has his work cut out - especially with captain Alastair Kellock and the hard-nosed Nathan Hines also playing in his position.
But that hasn't stopped others, including former Scotland and British and Lions forward John Beattie, who has also coached Gray, marking him out as a huge prospect for the future.
"He loves the rough stuff, he's a very tough boy," Beattie was quoted as saying. "Of all the young players I've seen come up through the game, he's the one who has everything."