Gray relishing Munster challenge
Glasgow Warriors second-rower Richie Gray is calling on the Warrior Nation to bring the noise this Friday night, as Irish heavyweights Munster come to town in what has the potential to be a firecracker of a clash in the United Rugby Championship.
With the two sides well acquainted after years of battles at the sharp end of the competition, it’s a fixture that immediately brings to mind memories of raucous atmospheres and titanic encounters under the Scotstoun floodlights.
4️⃣ days to go!
Additional tickets have just been released in the Main Stand! ?
It’s a fixture that Gray is keenly anticipating, as the Cambuslang product and his team-mates prepare to welcome Johann van Graan’s men this weekend.
“You always know you’re in for a tough one against Munster,” Gray told glasgowwarriors.org.
“They’re a hard-nosed side who don’t give you anything for free, and it’s always a physical battle up front.
“The scrum and lineout are the pillars of Munster rugby really, and they have been for forever. Those are two areas of the game that they really pride themselves on and rightly so. They’re also two areas where we feel we’ve really improved though, which means that this weekend will be a great test for us to see exactly where we stand.
“These are the types of games that you look forward to in professional rugby.”
The Warriors return to URC action in good form, buoyed by an impressive 42-20 victory away to Connacht last time out in a display that blended clinical attack with shuddering physicality both with and without the ball.
For Gray, though, the next step is all about continuing an unbeaten run in the URC that stretches back to the end of November.
“We were chuffed with our performance last time out,” he said.
“Connacht’s always a really tough place to go and play – they’ve got a great home record and were flying after qualifying for the knockout stages in Europe, so for us to go over and get a really good win was superb.
“We’ve spoken this week about the need to back that result up, however. If we don’t get the right result against Munster this weekend, then we undo a lot of the good work out in Galway.”
Whilst Danny Wilson’s squad will be focusing solely on Friday’s fixture, the visit of Munster marks the beginning of a potentially crucial run of games for the Warriors.
With fixtures against all three Scottish-Italian Shield rivals in the space of the next two months, in addition to trips to face the Scarlets and Cardiff, Gray knows the importance of continuing where his side left off in Galway a fortnight ago.
“The goal for us is top-four,” he said.
“This club is a top-four side at least, and we’d be doing ourselves a disservice to aim for anything less.
“Munster are obviously just behind us in the league at the moment, so it’s a really important match this weekend. With a big run of matches coming up, it’s important to put ourselves in a good position for the run-in.”
Friday’s clash also has an additional significance for the Warrior Nation; namely, it will be the first opportunity for the Scotstoun faithful to welcome the Munstermen since September 2018, with last season’s meeting between the two sides having been played behind closed doors.
Having played in his fair share of memorable moments for his hometown club, Gray knows exactly how much the support from the stands can give in those make-or-break moments.
“Friday nights at Scotstoun are always special,” said the 2013 British and Irish Lion.
“Over the years, Munster matches have had that little bit extra edge because we’re usually both challenging at the right end of the table, and they’ve become almost a derby-type atmosphere.
“It promises to be a big night for us, and hopefully the fans come out, make a lot of noise and help us get the right result.”