RICHIE Gray’s disciplinary hearing for alleged dangerous play will take place on Wednesday morning, and the Scotland camp appear confident of a positive outcome that will leave the lock forward free to play against Argentina on Saturday.

The 33-year-old is alleged to have committed an act of foul play in a ruck or maul during Sunday’s defeat by the All Blacks, and if the charge is upheld he could be suspended from the Pumas match and possibly from one or two club games as well. However, Scotland assistant coach Pieter de Villiers insisted last night that there was nothing malicious about anything Gray had done during the New Zealand match at BT Murrayfield, and praised the player for his exemplary discipline.

“The hearing is on Wednesday,” said De Villiers, a scrum specialist. “It’s really just a waiting game. We will have a result probably around lunchtime.

“We will appeal the charge. It’s a dangerous cleaning-out, coming into the ruck with contact to the head. 

“Richie has always been an example of discipline, on and off the field. There’s absolutely no malicious intent in his gesture, so we’ve got confidence the process will go well.

“Obviously it’s not in our hands. But Richie has always been a brilliant example in terms of discipline.

“Richie’s experience and leadership have been massive. He’s brought a lot to the table for us. It’s great to see him in this kind of form.”

In the aftermath of Scotland’s 23-31 loss to New Zealand there was a suggestion that All Blacks lock Scott Barrett had complained about being punched at one point in proceedings. However, Ian Foster, the visitors’ head coach, said in the post-match media conference that he knew nothing of the supposed incident.

There was certainly no action taken by referee Frank Murphy on any such interaction between Gray and Barrett, and De Villiers believes that the disciplinary panel could take that into account. “The Richie incident was deemed on the field to be not dangerous play, and hopefully that also plays in his favour,” the assistant coach added. “The citing commissioner has chosen to cite him and we now have to follow the process and see what happens.”

Having already lost Scott Cummings and Sam Skinner to injury, Scotland could do without being deprived of the services of Gray too. If the hearing does go against them, they will probably promote Gray’s younger brother Jonny to partner Grant Gilchrist at lock.

However, another, more adventurous option would be to bring former Scotland Under-20s captain Callum Hunter-Hill onto the bench. Now with Saracens, the former Edinburgh player was called up earlier this week and has a big admirer in De Villiers. 

“Callum has had a brilliant season up till now playing for the team leading the Prem. Great lineout man, great caller of the lineouts, and he’s been with us before, so it’s great to have him back in and he’ll be ready to slot in if needed.”

De Villiers also revealed that Finn Russell is still with the squad - although the stand-off could fly back to France at short notice to be with his partner, who is due to give birth soon.  “He’s still with the squad. There’s still no news with regards to the baby. We’re planning with him.”

Meanwhile, the coach insisted that Scotland did not have a mental block about closing out big games after they let a nine-point advantage slip against New Zealand. Two weeks previously they lost by a single point to Australia, while in the summer they lost the deciding Test against Argentina by three points.

“No, I don’t think there’s any mental block,” he continued. “We’ve been working on a lot of things recently in terms of finishing things off, and I do think that those points are coming. Some of these tighter games against the big teams have not always got us on the right side of the dice, but I think we are progressing, the team is growing in confidence and I’m sure those results will happen soon.

“The All Blacks are a brilliant team. Australia was a tight game and they went on to have a one-point difference against France as well. Things are very tight in the top ten.

“Every game has a few opportunities where we made a wrong decision, or we should have gone wide where we kept it close and vice versa. We’ll take those learnings on board and set it right for this next Test.

“We’ve been working on growing and being consistent – and finishing off big moments in games. I think getting close in terms of the scoreline to some of these big teams shows the growth that we are experiencing at the moment.

“Now we just need to keep on doing it. I think the results will come. Yes, we still need to grow - we know that. But we are growing.”