Gray hopes to stand tall against the All Blacks
Wednesday 10 November 2010
Wales lost one up-and-comer yesterday but gained two established names for the weekend's Test against South Africa. The misery at the absence of Sam Warburton will be tempered by the news that Lee Byrne and Ryan Jones will be fit to play against the world champions.
Warburton impressed many against Australia on Saturday, but the open-side's tireless exertions came at a price. The 22-year-old tore a calf muscle and is now almost certain to miss the rest of the autumn series. Wales will rely on the experience of Martyn Williams.
Warren Gatland will name his XV for the Millennium Stadium tomorrow and Byrne, barring any adverse reaction in training to his broken metacarpal, is certain to be included at full-back, with James Hook moving to outside centre. Whether Jones will return from his own calf problems to captain the side from the base of the scrum is debatable.
Robin McBryde, the forwards coach, made some exceedingly positive comments about the blind-side Dan Lydiate and the No 8 Jonathan Thomas and, seeing as a combination of injuries has limited Jones' game time this season, any inclusion in the starting XV may be seen as premature.
Richie Gray's impressive performances for Glasgow this season have earned him a first starting place for Scotland's game against New Zealand, who they have never beaten in 105 years of trying, on Saturday.
He will partner Jim Hamilton in a second-row that Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach, clearly hopes will throw a spanner in the works of an All Black boiler house which functioned at 100 per cent efficiency in the line-out in their 26-16 win against England at Twickenham last Saturday. "Richie has really stepped up and played outstandingly well for Glasgow," Robinson said. "We want him to bring that to the game on Saturday."
Gray will be one of two first-time starters in a Scotland side looking to build on three successive wins on the road: against Ireland at Croke Park in March and against Argentina in Tucuman and Mar del Plata in June. His club-mate Richie Vernon replaces the injured Johnnie Beattie at No 8.
Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
Diego Costa injury: Chelsea striker a doubt for Everton match after suffering muscle injury
Arsenal vs Besiktas player ratings: Alexis Sanchez? Jack Wilshere? Mesut Ozil? Who was the star man at the Emirates Stadium?
Champions League draw: Liverpool meet Real Madrid, but should they fear facing the reigning champions?
William Carvalho to Manchester United: Midfielder on the cards for Louis van Gaal after Arturo Vidal doubts grow
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage