Grays inspire each other, not fight each other
Richie Gray does not need sibling rivalry to fire him up for Scotland duty, but finds 'inspiration' in having younger brother Jonny alongside him.
The towering second-row pair have become a mainstay of Vern Cotter’s line-up since Jonny made the step up to international duty three and a half years ago.
While Richie – at the age of 27 and 6ft 9in – has five years and a handful of centimetres on Jonny, not to mention an extra 33 caps, it is Jonny who has won the plaudits so far during this year’s RBS Six Nations.
With an astonishing tally of 52 tackles from 54 attempts, he is the championship’s most efficient destroyer.
In attack, he has also contributed 35 carries from his three appearances so far, underlining not only his growing importance to the Dark Blues but also the credentials which should see him join Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions touring party when they depart for New Zealand this summer.
It would be easy in these circumstances for Richie to be irked by his sibling, but the Toulouse forward insists neither jealousy nor competitiveness is the motivating factor driving him on.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s clash with England at Twickenham, he explained: “Jonny has gone from strength to strength. What I said a couple of years ago was about the need to do it consistently, but he’s been able to do it week in week out and that’s the most impressive thing.
“I’ve seen him come on as a leader. He’s grown and matured and makes me very proud.
“How has his emergence as a leader changed our relationship? Not too much. We still have our discussions about things and (talk about) what we can get better at.
“We’re not really competitive. I think he wins most weeks anyway. It’s not much of a competition.
“With brothers I suppose you always want to win the battle but we’re not too much like that. We try and help each other out as much as possible.
“I see him more as an inspiration. It’s great to see and certainly keeps me going. It gives me a standard I have to aim for. I’m just trying to keep up.”
Cotter will need both brothers – and every other player, for that matter – to be at their very best if Scotland are to pull off a feat last achieved before every member of his squad was even born.
It is 34 years since a Dark Blues XV last stormed Twickenham and emerged victorious.
But if the Scots can manage that this weekend, they will put themselves on the verge of the most unlikely of Six Nations triumphs.
However, even if they do not, Gray does not believe this will be the last heard of this group.
“It’s a great position to be in,” he said. “Obviously it’s a huge match and one with a huge amount of importance. We’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve constantly been progressing with the group of players and the staff. We have been getting better and better.
“Glasgow and Edinburgh have both been doing well in Europe and, with us having three home games this year, hopefully that all adds together to form a good championship.
“But there certainly is a lot more to come. It’s a young group and we have got more things to show.”
Their current abilities are certain to be put under serious examination by Eddie Jones’ team when they run out at HQ.
But Gray does not seem fazed by the prospect of taking on a team who could equal New Zealand’s Test record of 18 wins in a row with a home triumph on Saturday.
He said: “It’s a huge challenge, going down to England. They are something like 17 wins on the bounce right now. They are the second best team in the world, so it’s a good contest.
“We’ve not won down there for a while and they are on a roll but everyone is keen to get down there. We’ll see where we are at the end.”