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British & Irish Lion upbeat despite slipping down Scotland pecking order

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ali Price feels his enhanced maturity has helped him respond positively to the frustration of losing his status as Scotland’s first-choice scrum-half in the lead-up to the World Cup.

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The 30-year-old had made the number nine jersey his own for three years from the start of 2020 to the end of 2022, a period that incorporated a call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad in 2021.

However, Price was dropped at the start of this year’s Six Nations, with the burgeoning Ben White taking his place. He is now effectively vying with his on-form Glasgow colleague George Horne for a place on the bench.

Price admits such a scenario would have “eaten him up inside” a few years back and caused him to react in an unconstructive manner but he has been able to take a more philosophical view on it and is at peace with the situation.

Asked if he had been able to enjoy the World Cup, despite starting only one of the three matches – Saturday’s victory over Pool B minnows Romania – Price said: “Yeah, I really have actually.

“From four years ago, getting injured in the first game and going home, I’ve matured as a person in my outlook.

“This situation a few years ago would have eaten me up inside. I’d have probably been negative about decisions or selection issues.

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“At times you have to accept that there are good players playing well in your position. It can happen and other guys take their opportunities and you have to bide your time.

“I think that’s the kind of realisation I’ve come to, the bigger picture. All I can do is focus on myself and get myself to where I want to be.

“I believe that when I’m at my best, I give the coach the hardest challenge of whether to select me or not and that’s all I can control.

“That’s my outlook and it has been for the last couple of years. It means I enjoy it more. I’m doing what I love, I’m with a group of boys I get on with really well.

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“That’s the bonus at the end of the week, being selected, but at the same time if I’m not, I’m contributing to those guys going out there and doing the best for the team and that’ll get us the results we need to progress.

“I think I’ve matured in that way in terms of disappointment at not playing when I’d like to be.”

Despite losing his Scotland place, Price feels he is now back “in a good spot” in terms of his overall game and mindset.

“It’s been frustrating at times, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “Everyone wants to play but I feel that during the Six Nations there was maybe a bit of a turning point for me in terms of seeing progress in myself in training.

“I was fit, I was healthy and I was making the most of the opportunities I had on the field.

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“The starts have maybe been less than I would have liked or what I had previously but I feel any time I’ve had on the pitch and in training, I’ve got myself slowly back to a place where I’m happy with how I’m performing.

“The game at the weekend was a lot of fun, I think how I facilitated the game and put others into space is one of my strengths. I really enjoyed the team performance we had. I was happy with how it went and I’m in a good spot.”

Price is desperate to get the chance to add to his 65 caps by having some involvement in Saturday’s showdown with Ireland in Paris.

The Scots must get a bonus-point win or deny the world’s top-ranked side a losing bonus in order to reach the quarter-finals.

“It’s huge,” said the scrum-half. “It would be one of the biggest games of my career if I was given the opportunity to play.

“I’ve not had as many minutes as I would have liked to have had this year but I think every chance I’ve had, I’ve shown what I can do.

“I’ve steadily got myself back to where I want to be as a player. It’s a big training week and what will be will be, but everyone is sticking their hand up.”

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