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Scotland's new captain relishing 'huge honour'

By PA
Scotland's lock Grant Gilchrist (C) celebrates their first try (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Grant Gilchrist is honoured to be leading Scotland on what he expects to be a “special” summer tour of South America.

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The 31-year-old Edinburgh lock has been named captain for the month-long trip to Chile and Argentina in the absence of regular skipper Stuart Hogg, who has been omitted in order to recuperate following a hectic schedule.

Gilchrist has led the national team on previous occasions and is proud to have been selected as the squad’s figurehead for what he hopes will be a productive period of team bonding ahead of next year’s World Cup.

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“It’s a huge honour,” he said. “I love playing for Scotland.

“To be asked to captain my country in the past was the pinnacle and this is right up there. It’s a really exciting challenge for me personally and the team to go down to South America for four big games.

“I’m an experienced player, I’ve been playing for a few years now, so it’s something that comes quite naturally to me.

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“We’ve got a great group of guys who will support me. It won’t be all about me, it will be about leadership throughout the team.

“You don’t normally get the opportunity to spend four weeks straight as a group to bond and get that connection. That is the reason it will be special. Building relationships and connections with each other can help the performance on the pitch.”

Gilchrist was part of the Scotland team that concluded the 2018 summer tour with a 44-15 victory over Argentina in Resistencia.

This time they will face the Pumas three times on consecutive weekends following next Saturday’s ‘A’ team match against Chile.

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The skipper is excited about returning to a partisan rugby nation.

“I’ve got positive memories of playing in Argentina,” he said. “I loved the hostile environment, they’re tough and physical.

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“They’re a passionate rugby-supporting nation and that feeling of playing in those hostile environments and getting a win is really special.

“We had a great result against them in 2018 but they were a bit of a wounded animal then. They’re a much better side now.

“We want to win this three-Test series. I’ve never been part of a three-Test series. It’s really exciting playing against a top-quality team in a hostile environment. What a challenge.

“If we can win a three-Test series in Argentina, that will be a big statement from us ahead of the autumn Tests, then heading into the Six Nations and the World Cup. This is a pivotal time for us to get heading on the right path.”

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