Dean Richards warned Eddie Jones he was in danger of losing players to rival countries and that has happened with Newcastle flanker Gary Graham turning his back on England and joining the Scotland squad for the remainder of the November tests.
Graham was called up but not used by Jones during last season’s Six Nations and now the son of former Scotland prop George has thrown in his lot with the Scots – just as Richards, the Falcons director of rugby had highlighted. Graham replaces the concussed Blade Thomson.
Richards told RugbyPass a month ago: “From a playing perspective England want the boys to want to play international rugby and they won’t get that if they don’t sell the dream because there are players (at Newcastle) who could play for England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland and may go down that route. The Scottish boys come down a lot and it’s only two hours down the road.”
Graham, the Stirling-born, former Scotland U20 international, featured in the same Junior World Cup squad as current senior squad members Alex Allan, Ali Price and Finn Russell, while also representing Gala RFC.
Graham moved to Carlisle at the age of three and said: “I’m Scottish through-and-through but England asked me first as I’m eligible through residency.
“It would have been a silly opportunity to pass up, as I hadn’t been selected for a Scotland squad since U20s. I’m absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I phoned Gregor to assure him I wanted to play for Scotland, and always wanted to play for my country. It’s where I’m from and where I played most of my rugby.”
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, added: “I was great to hear from Gary that he wanted to commit to Scotland. It has become a competitive environment for dual-qualified players recently and we know that these are not easy decisions for players.
“We’ve been tracking Gary since he was at Jersey and his form over the past 12 months at Newcastle has moved him closer to playing international rugby. We look forward to welcoming him into our squad for this week’s camp.”
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