GRANT GILCHRIST has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

And it is this mentality that has seen the lock bounce back from the disappointment of falling out of international favour to regain his place in Gregor Townsend’s team.

Gilchrist was an integral member of the Scotland side that travelled to last year’s World Cup, starting three of Scotland’s four games in Japan as well as making an appearance from the bench against Russia.

But come the start of this Six Nations campaign, Gilchrist had dropped out of favour and for Scotland’s opening two fixtures of the tournament, he failed to make it into the matchday 23 entirely.

While he is far too experienced to ever get complacent about international selection, Gilchrist was in good form coming into this Six Nations and it was a surprise to many, if not himself, that he found himself sidelined for those opening fixtures.

And while being dropped might have felt like a crushing blow to some, for Gilchrist, it was just an obstacle he knew he would have to overcome, and so he immediately set about proving his worth in training.

“I felt, coming into the tournament, my form was pretty good with Edinburgh but I was also aware that we’re blessed with quality players in my position and they were also playing well,” the 29-year-old said.

“Gregor (Townsend) is pretty good – he said straight away he thought I was playing pretty well and that I’d get an opportunity at some point so I just needed to be ready to take it.

“I always believed I had attributes that I could bring to the table for the team – I was always pushing hard and I believed I could force my way in this tournament.

“(So I focused on) contributing as much as possible to the team performance so in

the first couple of weeks, I was involved a lot in with line-outs and stuff, making sure the guys were really well prepared for the games, which is something I’d take pride in anyway.

“If you’re not involved, you have to be engaged and that counts for just as much.

“I want Scotland to win so if you’re involved (in the matchday squad), great but if you’re not you still have a big job to do and that’s something I was determined to do, as well as show up well in training.

“And when you get back to your club in the gap weeks, making sure you’re putting your best foot forward for your club so Gregor knows you’re playing well.”

Gilchrist did more than enough to convince Townsend to give him his place in the side back, with the head coach including him in his matchday squad for Scotland’s past two matches, as a replacement against Italy and then in the starting 15 against France last Sunday.

Gilchrist is never short of motivation when representing his country but he admits that short period on the sidelines has given him a little extra drive over the past few weeks.

“I’d been champing at the bit to be involved so it was a big opportunity for me (to start against France),” he said.

“Like every time you get to be involved with Scotland, you try to make the most of it. Spending a bit of time out of the team or fighting for your place just makes you better. Competition makes you better.

“I was as hungry as ever and I know that to keep my place in the team, I need to be like that every time I put the jersey on.”

While that momentary blip in terms of selection may have dented the confidence of some, Gilchrist is far too used to battling for his place to allow it to affect him adversely and so his mood was not affected too severely by missing out on selection.

“I’ve been around the block and I’ve always had to fight for my place and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

“Throughout my whole career, there’s never been a spell when I’ve been a guaranteed pick, I’ve always had to fight tooth and nail so (my mood) pretty much the same and I fight the same way I always do. So it hasn’t changed me too much.”