Grant Gilchrist wants pack mentality to kick-start Edinburgh

Grant Gilchrist is set to make his first appearance at Murrayfield for 23 months. Pic: SNS/SRU
Grant Gilchrist is set to make his first appearance at Murrayfield for 23 months. Pic: SNS/SRU
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Edinburgh Rugby co-captain Grant Gilchrist believes his side has a pack that can compete with any in Europe on their day – and he wants them to dominate games to help the team get on the winning trail soon.

At the weekend Alan Solomons’ men got off to a losing start in the Guinness PRO12 when they went down 34-16 at Cardiff Blues.

On Friday night they host the Scarlets in their first home match of the campaign and Gilchrist knows that performance levels must improve markedly if they are to get anything out of it.

The second-row, who turned 26 last month, said: “As a pack we know that we can compete with anyone on our day and we won a lot of lineout and scrum ball against Cardiff.

“For whatever reason we didn’t make the most of that ball and if you don’t have possession for long periods then you will struggle to win any rugby match.

“What we have to do as a group of forwards is go out there and really dominate opponents and give our backline, which includes some exciting new players, the chance to really shine.

“We understand things need to go from where we are now to a higher level. It was disappointing in the first game at Cardiff, but it was just the first game and we are not hitting any panic buttons.

“All of us know the work we have been doing and need to trust it and put a performance in on Friday night because Saturday was not like the team that I have been part of during pre-season.

“We have to put that to bed quickly and focus on the Scarlets now.”

Before the Cardiff match, Gilchrist’s last competitive outing for the Capital club came in February away against the Ospreys.

In that one he suffered a broken arm, meaning that the Scotland cap could just about write off 2014/15 and 2015/16 altogether.

During those two seasons he played just six matches for Edinburgh and four for Scotland.

In October 2014, just after being named national team captain by Vern Cotter, Gilchrist’s injury misery began when he had fractured a different arm bone.

Complications with that one mean that he did not recover until the summer of 2015 and then while at the World Cup in England he suffered a groin injury.

All of which means that when he does play at BT Murrayfield on Friday night it is set to be his first competitive club outing at the ground for 23 months.

“I am enjoying being back playing that is for sure,” the Alloa and Stirling County product said with a smile.

“I have not played a lot of rugby in recent times so I have to get the rust out of my game and make sure I am playing my best rugby as quickly as possible.

“If you have not played a lot you have to get out there and get used to reacting to the ‘in game’ situations. You can do all the fitness in the world, but it is different to playing a game of rugby.

“Every time I have played during pre-season and last week at Cardiff I have felt better and that will continue until I get up to the level where I was before.

“I know I have a lot of hard work to do every time I train and every time I play.”

Given that he has not played a lot of rugby of late, some wondered whether he would have been better just playing this term rather than also taking on the extra burden of being co-captain with hooker Stuart McInally.

He does not buy into that though and believes he is at his best when he is wearing the armband.

“It is my instinct to lead and I care a lot about this club,” he stated. “I have been here long enough and to be asked to be co-captain was a no-brainer for me – it makes my game better and leadership is something I have become used to.

“It brings the best out of me as a rugby player so it was never an issue – I am proud to lead these boys.”