Richie Gray made the decision to opt out of World Cup selection with Scotland, according to assistant coach Danny Wilson.
The 29-year-old Toulouse lock was a surprise omission when Gregor Townsend named his 44-man training squad in May while eyebrows were raised again on Tuesday as Glasgow second-rower Tim Swinson was drafted in ahead of Gray to provide training cover after Sam Skinner was ruled out of next month’s tournament.
Gray has not featured for the Scots since a clash with Italy in Rome 18 months ago, with back and hip injuries ruling him out for much of that period.
However, the former British and Irish Lion did recover from surgery on his most recent injury to help his club side lift the Top 14 title and there have been calls for him to be handed a recall on the back of two ropey line-out displays from the Scottish pack against France this month.
But Wilson confirmed the decision not to travel to Japan was not made by Townsend but instead by Gray – who has had to juggle the birth of his son Ostin with his fitness battles in recent months.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) August 27, 2019
The forwards coach said: “Gregor has been in constant conversation with Richie. But due to family reasons and perhaps returning from injury and fitness he has decided that he could not commit to the World Cup. It was Richie’s decision.
“From my end, I really admire the player. I think he’s been a great player for Scotland over the years as he is a quality rugby player. Timing does come into these things at times and obviously that’s a personal choice which we understand from Richie.
“I’ve never actually worked with him, he’s not been in the squad since I began my time with Scotland. Hopefully, that will happen in the future, but we’ll see.”
Swinson has now been given the chance to stake a claim for a seat on the plane to Japan although he does not have long, with Townsend set to unveil his 31-man travelling party at a special ceremony at Linlithgow Palace next Tuesday.
– Press Association
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