Ali Price recognises that having eight players on this summer’s Lions trip to South Africa is a brilliant achievement for Scottish rugby after five successive tours of just two or three individuals being involved – but the scrum-half insists that neither he nor any of the other seven tartan representatives in the squad will be content just making up the numbers. 

They are there to play in the Test team, and ultimately win the three-match Test series against the Springboks. 

“Everyone is happy to be here, but we want to be involved as much as we can,” stressed the 28-year-old. “Those three games at the end of the tour are what we’re all gunning for. When the games start coming and squads are being selected, everyone is competitive and it is just about taking opportunities when you get them in the games.” 

If Scotland’s miserly representation on recent tours has created an inferiority complex, then Gregor Townsend – the national team’s head coach who Warren Gatland’s No2 this summer – wasted little time in disabusing each individual players of that notion. 

“He rang all the Scottish boys shortly after the announcement and congratulated us and told us just to do what we've been doing for Scotland,” added Price. "He said: ‘Don't shy away from any opportunity that you are given’.  

“I also got a great message from Mike Blair [Scotland’s assistant coach who was one of the scrum-halves on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa] before we flew out. He said it was brilliant I had been selected, but to not just be satisfied with that. You're there because you're one of the best three and it's for you to go and make the most of the tour. 

“It is quite a strange situation to come into a squad for the first time, I guess. There are a lot of big personalities or players you have watched playing or played against at international level. But, at the same time, it is a brilliant opportunity, and we are all here to try and win a place in the Test side come the end of the tour.  

“We are going there to win the series. It is a bit daunting but at the same time it is an opportunity you don’t want to let just pass you by. You want to put your best foot forward and put yourself out there.” 

Price was among the six Scottish Lions who joined 20 other squad members in Jersey on Sunday night ahead of the start of a 13-day training camp on Monday morning, building up to the team's only pre-tour match against Japan at Murrayfield on 26th June. Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg are among the 11 players who will not join the group until their club seasons are over.  

Russell’s Racing 92 play La Rochelle in the semi-finals of French Top 14 play-offs on Friday night and if they win that game they will play the final on the Friday night before the Japan match. Meanwhile, Hogg’s Exeter Chiefs have an English Premiership play-off semi-final clash against Sale Sharks this Saturday, and if they win that then they will play their final on the same day as the Japan game.  

The absence of so many leading players is not ideal for a squad with limited time to gel before tackling the colossal task of taking on the world champions in their own backyard over three consecutive weekends at the end of July and start of August, but Price stressed that there will be no waiting around for a full complement before the hard work really begins.  

The onus is on the players who are in camp at the moment to set a ferocious pace, and for the late arrivals to catch-up. 

“The first morning was pretty gentle but in the afternoon it racked up and we had a very tough session to start the week,” he said. “The boys are in a good place. They have come in off the back of a week or two off training and no games, so everybody is fresh and ready to go. We all know we have to put in the hard yards now, and when we play Japan, and then in the early tour games in South Africa, so that we are ready to go when the Tests come around.’ 

“It's massive for the Scottish players to try and get themselves involved in the 23 for the Japan game up in Edinburgh. Our friends and family will be able to come and watch – albeit from the stands with no meeting and greeting after the game – and it's an opportunity to potentially get a first game under the belt. It's a big carrot at the end of these two weeks.”