British & Irish Lions: Call-up would be realisation of a childhood dream for Jamie Ritchie
For Jamie Ritchie, selection for the Lions would be the realisation of a childhood dream and the Edinburgh flanker says it is humbling to be even mentioned as a contender.
With Warren Gatland due to name his squad to tour South Africa at 12.30pm on Thursday, players across the UK and Ireland will be on tenterhooks.
Ritchie and his back-row partner Hamish Watson were fundamental to Scotland’s successful Six Nations campaign which saw Gregor Townsend’s side record away wins over England and France in the same season for the first time since 1926.
Not surprisingly, Ritchie thinks Watson deserves to be selected but is reluctant to talk up his own chances.
“Och, I am trying not to think about it too much,” he said. “People keep asking me. Whatever happens, happens. I have been in the game long enough to know it is all pretty subjective. I have done all I can. It is up to the people who make those decisions.
“It is pretty humbling even being mentioned in the conversation. If I was to be selected then, touch wood, I would be over the moon. A childhood dream would be realised. It would be awesome.”
Watson was voted player of the tournament but his Six Nations displays did not convince everyone. One scribe on an English Sunday paper reckons the breakaway is too small to take on South Africa, a notion scoffed at by Ritchie.
“If any of them had ever tried to tackle Hamish they probably would be changing their minds,” said the 24-year-old.
“In my mind he is one of the best sevens in the world. I think he should go but as I said these things are so subjective it is up to others to make those decisions. If I was picking it Hamish would be there.”
With the pair filling the wing forward berths with such distinction for club and country, Ritchie joked that he hoped he could drag himself into the Lions squad on Watson’s coattails.
“Me and Hamish have a really brilliant relationship both on and off the pitch,” he said. “We know how each other play, we know what suits each other and what we do well. For me it has been invaluable to have Hamish here since I have been here.
“Hopefully I can coattail him in there! Look, who knows what’s going to happen? No me. If Mish goes I’ll be delighted for him and if I go I’ll be delighted for myself. If I don’t go I’ll get on with my life and have a nice summer.”
Ritchie has been recharging his batteries in recent weeks after a gruelling stint in the Six Nations and Champions Cup but is expected to return for Edinburgh’s 1872 Cup decider against Glasgow at Scotstoun on Friday.
The pair are familiar foe but Ritchie scotches the suggestion that the players are sick of the sight of each other.
“Nah. I think the boys will probably joke about it a bit, like ‘this is the fifth time we’ve played them this year’ but when it comes to game time everyone looks forward to getting a chance to have a pop at Glasgow so we’ll be up for it.”