Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson believes that Richie Gray is ready to push his way into Scotland’s match-day squad for the first time in almost three years, when the national side kick-off their 2021 Six Nations campaign with a trip to Twickenham to take on England on 6th February.

The 6ft 10ins second-row has been in the international wilderness since the end of the 2018 Six Nations due to a combination of injury and unavailability for family reasons, and a big driver in his decision to return to Warriors last summer, following eight years playing in England France, was to put himself back in the frame to earn his 66thScotland cap.

Gray had to withdraw from Scotland’s Autumn Test schedule due to a concussion, leaving him a frustrated bystander as his brother, Jonny, and Warriors team-mate, Scott Cummings, further cemented their places in the national engine-room.

Meanwhile, the hugely experienced Grant Gilchrist of Edinburgh, and uncapped Alex Craig of Gloucester, will also be working hard in the Scotland training camp during the next week and a half to push their way into contention for the England game.

However, Wilson believes that two towering performances from Gray for Warriors in the recent 1872 Cup double-header against Edinburgh showed that the 31-year-old is still a formidable force capable of being an important contributor to the national cause.

“I am really pleased for Richie because he was a couple of months out with concussion and it can take players a while to get back from that, but he hit the ground running,” said Wilson. “I think he had the carrot in his mind that because he is back in Scotland he wants to play for Scotland, so he knew the derbies were an important chance for him to improve his chance of being selected – and he had two really good games.

“He is an outstanding line-out forward. As a group we did a lot of homework on Edinburgh and decided we were going to go after them in the air, and Richie is your ideal man for that job, as we saw in that first game. “He offers a point of difference and any opposition line-out will be thinking, ‘Crikey, he is a big old lump to get the ball over!’ I am guessing Scotland will have seen that, and maybe with a few hooker injuries Richie becomes a valuable person in the group. “He is a leader by example. He is not a shouter or screamer, but he does lead well by other means. Hopefully, he gets an opportunity to do that with Scotland, and then comes back healthy and ready to play for us as well.”