Lions lock Richie Gray says he’s fighting fit and ready to go ahead of the 10-match tour of Hong Kong and Australia.
The Scotland star hasn’t featured since injuring his hamstring in the loss to Wales in early March but he hopes his lack of recent game time could work in his favour Down Under.
Fellow second row Danny Grewcock suffered a similar spell on the sidelines with a broken jaw prior to the last series in Australia in 2001 but he bounced back to start all three Tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
And now Gray is hoping for the same scenario when Britain and Ireland’s elite go in search of a first series success since 1997.
“The hamstring’s feeling great – there’s no trouble there,” said Gray, who joins Ian Evans, Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O’Connell and Geoff Parling in competing for a spot in the Lions’ boilerhouse for the three Tests on June 22, 29 and July 6.
“It’s not been a vintage season by any means and I’m the first to admit that. The only thing I could do was get my hamstring right to put my name in the hat and, thankfully, I was able to do that.
“The last eight weeks following my injury has given me a bit of time to shake off a few niggles and I’ve been able to get my head focused on getting fit and getting my hamstring right. That’s been my focus and now I’ll give it everything and crack on.
“I’m hoping that it can be a blessing in disguise. I feel a hell of a lot fresher than normal. I believe I’m 100 per cent ready to go.”
Gray was one of just three Scotsmen selected in Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad but he insists that won’t stop him from getting to know his team-mates as quickly as possible.
And having already beaten the Qantas Wallabies with his country on Australian soil last summer, the 24-year-old will be heading south with plenty of confidence.
“Naturally, you’d be disappointed for your countrymen…you just get on with it. I’m looking forward to meeting these guys and getting to know them,” added Gray.
“The thing that comes across from speaking to past Lions is how much of an honour it is – ‘just go out and enjoy it as much as you can but have that focus on the task’ is what they’ve said.
“The win with Scotland certainly does give you a confidence boost. Obviously, conditions were a bit different but, as a forward pack, we had a pretty good tussle. It was a physical exchange and a tough game but we can take confidence from it.
“The grounds will be harder and we should have some nice weather – hopefully that will suit me.”