Gilchrist focusing on Ulster despite 150th milestone

Gilchrist focusing on Ulster despite 150th milestone

Edinburgh second-row Grant Gilchrist will make his 150th appearance for the club against Ulster at BT Murrayfield tomorrow night.

The Scotland international has been ever-present in the Edinburgh boiler room and the 30-year-old will be looking to cap his latest milestone with a win, which will take Richard Cockerill’s side to the Guinness PRO14 Final for the first time.

Speaking ahead of the match, Grant Gilchrist, said: “I felt immensely proud to get my first game for Edinburgh, and I’ll feel just as proud on Saturday to get my 150th game.

“I don’t really keep tabs on how many games I’ve had but it is a cool feeling to reach a milestone like this.

“It is the kind of thing that will mean a lot to me at the end of my career, but at the minute it will be a special day to play my 150th game, but it will be a special day anyway because it is a semi-final in the Guinness PRO14.

“I think it’s pretty clear how much I love playing for Edinburgh and how much the club means to me. I have a deep connection with the club and if I could in my time with Edinburgh I’d love to win something.

“We were unlucky against Munster last year and were really hard on ourselves because we dominated the game and didn’t win it. There’s no unlucky feeling from the player, or feeling that we still did well to get there, it was a different feeling. And no-one wants that feeling from this game, we’re not plucky losers, it’s time to step up.

“That’s what excites me and the rest of the boys, you do all this preparation to play in these big games, and when you get into them you’ve got to win them. Winning silverware is something I want from my career.”

Edinburgh have been on a journey over the last few years under Cockerill and a lot of focus has been on recruitment and developing young players to improve the depth of the squad.

Gilchrist now believes they have a squad strong enough to compete with the very best.

He said: “That's the biggest difference for me - it wasn't a lack of ambition, we've certainly strengthened our squad, we've got the strongest squad now that we've had in my time at the club and that obviously helps - we've recruited well and young guys have come through and done well.

“The level of our training has gone up and that's what makes the difference on a Saturday - if you're training at a speed and intensity, that makes a difference.”

With the regular season complete, it’s knockout rugby now for Edinburgh in both the Guinness PRO14 and European Challenge Cup and with the capital side just one game away from a historic final, Gilchrist knows there is no room for any slip-ups this weekend.

He added: “If we get the occasion right, put our best game out there then there's no excuses. We've had that hit-out, that's what you'd normally have at the start of the year, but it's very different to seasons gone by when you have meaningless friendlies, to have two derby games, you're battle-hardened and you're ready to go a lot quicker.

“The team that takes their chances wins the game. We’re under no illusions about the accuracy and physical way they [Ulster] play the game. Our own accuracy and ability to be ruthless this weekend is going to be massive.

“We've put ourselves in this position and we'll be tested on Saturday night to see if we are good enough to go beyond play-off contenders.

“Clearly, we can be consistent over a number of games which is something that during my time at the club we've struggled with - in the early years we were good enough to beat anyone on our day, but consistency in our performance is the biggest difference in the last few years. Now it's about can we stand up on the big occasion and deliver and I think it's time for us to step up as a team.

“There's no excuses for us now. We're ready to go and it's all about performing."

The game is behind closed doors, but supporters can watch live on Premier Sports 1 (Saturday 5 September, 7.35pm) or listen on BBC Radio Scotland. Alternatively, you can follow minute-by-minute action via the club's Live Match centre.

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