“It feels good to be back” | Gray ready to hit the ground running

“It feels good to be back” | Gray ready to hit the ground running

A lot has happened in the past eight years in the worlds of both Glasgow Warriors and Richie Gray.

An hour-long
appearance against Leinster at the RDS on 11 May 2012 marks the second-rower’s
most recent run-out for the club, as Glasgow closed out the 2011/12 campaign.
Fast forward almost 3,000 days, and – having returned to his first professional
club as a British and Irish Lion, a French TOP14 winner and a veteran of over
60 caps for Scotland – Gray is relishing being back in Warriors colours.

“It feels
good to be back,” said the 30-year-old.

“It helps
when you know the area and the city quite well – I grew up here, so coming back
and seeing family and friends has been great. The setup through in Edinburgh at
BT Murrayfield is pretty good as well, and that’s helped us all get back and
hit the ground running. It’s been good to see all the boys and the coaching
staff again, and just get back to training and some sense of normality.

obviously been a lot of changes since I left, but there are still a few
familiar faces from before! Guys like Rob [Harley], Ryan [Wilson], Pete [Horne]
and Chris [Fusaro] are all still here, so it’s been great to catch up with

The Warrior
Nation’s adoration for their team is another constant from Gray’s first spell
with his hometown side. News of his return was greeted with an outpouring of
positivity on social media, as fans lined up to welcome the 6’10” second-rower
back to the club. With a young family and a chance to come home, it proved too
good an opportunity to pass up.

“I never
stopped following Glasgow after I left,” said Gray.

“I’ve seen
how well the club has done in the last eight years and been incredibly proud of
everything they’ve achieved both domestically and in Europe. I felt I wanted to
be part of that.

“I’ve never
actually played at Scotstoun and the matchday experience there always looks
incredible in front of a really passionate fanbase.

“From a
family perspective, too, my wife Ellie and I have been away for eight years and
now with young Ostin it’s good to be back close to family and friends.”

Whilst Gray
may have to wait a bit longer to run out in front of the Warrior Nation at
Scotstoun due to current government guidelines, the Scotland international has
already linked up with his new team-mates at the home of Scottish rugby as all
eyes turn to a return to rugby. It might be a different type of setup than the
squad is used to, but Gray is effusive in his praise for the voluntary fitness
sessions at BT Murrayfield.

“We’ve got
everything set up outside,” explained Gray.

“The weights
sessions are outdoors instead of in the gym, but it still has everything you’d

“After those
sessions you’re out on the pitch for your run, and again you’re sectioned off
away from everyone else. It’s obviously a bit different, but it’s making sure
we tick every box we need to tick and keep everyone safe. It’s been going well,
and the boys are pretty happy.”

Still just
30, Gray – along with Leone Nakarawa – nevertheless finds himself as one of the
older heads in a youthful crop of second-rowers. With new arrival Hamish Bain
joining Scott Cummings and Kiran McDonald as the engine room options available
to new Head Coach Danny Wilson, the youth present throughout the squad is an
exciting prospect for Gray.

“I’m really
looking forward to working with all of them,” he said.

such a talented group of second-rowers at the club, it’s going to be great to
work together and learn from each other day in, day out. I’m keen to work with
those guys and learn from them, and if I can help them improve anywhere too
then I’m going to do everything I can.

“Towards the
end of my time with Toulouse, I was becoming one of the more senior players –
there was a massive influx of younger guys coming through, very similar to
here. It’s such a good thing for the club, because the younger guys throughout
the squad – like Jamie Dobie, like the Fagersons, like Rufus McLean – bring a
massive amount of energy and are keen to learn every day. If you can mix that
with some more senior figures, then you’ve got a pretty good balance.

“It’s an
exciting time for the club.”

For now,
though, attentions are well and truly fixed on the closing two rounds of the
2019/20 Guinness PRO14 regular season. Whilst it may be an unorthodox time to
make your return to your first professional side, Gray is fully focused on
preparing for August’s clashes with Glasgow’s cross-country rivals.

“I’d love to
be part of the Edinburgh matches,” he grinned.

fixtures back-to-back like that would be a pretty great first couple of matches

definitely say I’m a more-rounded player than I was eight years ago. I’ve
experienced different ways of playing the game and different cultures, and I’m
hoping I’ll be able to share those experiences with the group as well as help
this team be as good as it can be.

“I can’t
wait to pull the Glasgow shirt on again.”

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