Grant Gilchrist is still best known as the player who was Vern Cotter’s surprise first choice as Scotland captain five years ago only to miss out on leading the team through injury and, while he is entitled to feel a bit tired of being repeatedly reminded of that, the lock acknowledges the solution has been in his own hands.

Just as that selection decision came four years ago so, too, did the broken arm that, following complications, he took a long time to recover from.

Not that he is using injuries as an excuse for his failure to re-establish himself as a regular starter in the interim, admitting that: “A lot of that is not to do with injuries, it’s selection.”

Loading article content

Read more: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend makes case for blaming the defence​

He points out, too, that the competition for places has only grown in standard during his period of involvement.

“Maybe a few years ago I had a bad run of injuries but second rows in Scotland there has always been a great crop of them. My first squad Al [Kellock] and Big Jim [Hamilton] were there and Richie [Gray],” he recalled.

“Since then Jonny [Gray], me, Big Richie [Gray], Swinno [Tim Swinson], Benny [Toolis] came through and had a few great seasons. It’s always been a position where if you are not at the top of your game, you are not going to play.

“That is more the way it has been rather than necessarily falling in and out because of injuries.”

Amid that litany of names, however, it is only the injured Richie Gray who has consistently demonstrated the sort of dynamism that can turn those traditionally considered beasts of burden, into match winners and Gilchrist knows he has to bring an extra dimension to his play in the Test arena if he is to oust the Toulouse-based lock’s brother Jonny as his regular international partner.

“I can play the way I play for Edinburgh, I have an edge to my game, physicality, setpiece and line speed, make sure that the big French runners are getting met with low tackles, in attack make sure that when it’s my time to carry I can get us on the front foot, make sure I get over the gain line and get us going forward which will allow the back line to do the damage,” he said.

Since Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend said yesterday that it had been the tightest of calls between the Edinburgh pair, putting all of that together against France would surely secure Gilchrist what the role 
he covets most for the remainder of the campaign.

“I was desperate to start for Scotland, that was always the goal coming into the camp. Obviously being involved last weekend for great for me personally but getting the start is what we all want,” said the latest man to put the lie to the claims of coaches and managers the world over who seek to maintain that it is now a 23-man game, to the point, in some cases, of redesignating replacements as ‘finishers.’

“I’ve been trying to put my best foot forward since we got 
into camp,” Gilchrist continued.

“Regardless of the result last week I am desperate to play anyway. On the back of that we are all desperate to get out and show we are a lot better than we showed last week.”

Read more: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend makes case for blaming the defence​

Having captained the team for the last two Tests of Cotter’s first tour in charge in 2014, before that ill-fated selection as first choice captain for the autumn Test series later that year, Gilchrist is profoundly aware of the need, with the reintroduction of several senior players, for them all to take responsibility this weekend, rather than allow things to spiral out of control as they did in Cardiff.

“The leaders, the callers and the decision-makers have been well drilled this week in how to react when things happen,” he said.

“Mistakes happen and it’s not the end of the world. We have to look at the next job and do that to the best of our ability.”