Scott Gray was carrying the water on his last visit to Twickenham. This weekend, he will be carrying the hopes of a nation as Scotland aim to finish their disappointing RBS 6 Nations on a high.
The Northampton flanker was today handed his first Test start since his debut four-and-a-half years ago when he was named in the side for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with England.
The 31-year-old has never played at the stadium but has been there before, performing a vital off-field role during Scotland A’s 2007 Churchill Cup campaign.
“I didn’t actually play but I was with the team,” said Gray, who had only just recovered from a shoulder injury and was invited to Twickenham to provide cover in case the worst happened.
“I was running around with the water.”
Despite not getting to play, Gray’s appetite was whetted by his visit to the stadium - and he cannot wait to run out there for real.
“It is a big stage and something I’m really looking forward to,” said Gray, who replaces John Barclay in the only change from Saturday’s 22-15 defeat against Ireland.
Gray, who was born in Harare and began his career in Australia, looked like being a one-cap wonder after he made his Test debut in 2004.
His club Border Reivers disbanded, and he was forced to drop out of top-flight rugby altogether - returning to the highest level only last summer.
His career has now come full circle; yet he insists starting on Saturday is not the end of his journey, but the beginning.
“I’ve just been given the opportunity to play and I want many more really,” added Gray, who will earn his eighth cap this weekend.
“I don’t want this to be the final one. I kind of see it as just another good opportunity to try to go out there and play on the big stage and really challenge myself to see how good I can be.”
Gray never really gave up hope of a Scotland recall, saying: “Maybe my mind was trying to tell me ‘Wake up to the fact that it’s not going to happen again’.
“But deep down, I’ve always thought, ‘I hope it will’.
“Every time I went to training, it was something I’d think about and say ‘If you ever want to get back there, this is when it’s going to make the difference’.
“It was always in the back of my mind and it was always something that helped me train that little bit harder.”
Gray owes his Scottish heritage to his Barrhead-born father Don, who emigrated to Zimbabwe when he was a boy.
Like other farmers, he was forced to flee to Mozambique under the Robert Mugabe regime.
He said: “I phoned my dad yesterday afternoon, and obviously he’s been watching all the games.
“He’s been watching me come off the bench and he’s been loving it.
“When I rang him up and said ‘I’m starting’, he was like ‘Oh my God, that’s amazing’.
“He’s ill at the moment; otherwise he’d been coming over. So he’ll be watching in South Africa.”