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Gilchrist: European adventure helped me gain international honour

Guinness PRO12 Editor

26 Oct 2012

Edinburgh’s run to the Heineken Cup semi-finals last year was the first time Grant Gilchrist believed he was capable of making it at international level.

And after receiving his inaugural call-up to the national squad by head coach Andy Robinson he’s desperate to take the chance with both hands.

Gilchrist, 22, is joined by fellow Gunners forward Stuart McInally in the 34-strong squad that will prepare for the autumn internationals.

But for Gilchrist it’s a dream come true and one he feels it wouldn’t have materialised if it wasn’t for his performances for the RaboDirect PRO12 side in Europe.

“As a boy I always wanted to play for Scotland and when we reached the European semi-final I felt I was probably closer than I had been before,” he told The Scotsman.

“You hope to keep playing well but whatever the circumstances when you get the call, as I did from Andy Robinson on Tuesday night, it comes as a shock. But in a good way.”

The first test for Gilchrist and co is a clash against World Cup winners New Zealand on November 11.

It potentially gives the lock a chance to reacquaint himself with Sam Whitelock, someone he got to know well during his stint in New Zealand at the beginning of last year.

“If I hadn’t gone on that Macphail Scholarship to Christchurch I would not have had the season I had with Edinburgh,” he added. 

“Also, while I was in New Zealand, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in the company of current All Black Sam Whitelock.

“Sam started out at the Lincoln University club I was attached to. While I was there he had a spell out injured and would go over clips of games in which I played pointing things out. 

“On one occasion we went out for some food to talk through a few things. To spend so much time getting one-to-one advice from an established All Black was pretty special.

“I even played a match alongside Sam when he was preparing to return to the professional game after his injury.”