A cricketer of some repute in his day, Gordon Ross will bring up a century of a different kind when he runs out for London Welsh against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday in the LV= Cup.
The fly half, 34, has been enjoying an Indian summer of a season in the Aviva Premiership, racking up 124 points in 12 appearances and using all his experience and cunning to help the Exiles carve out four wins and occupy tenth in the table.
Saturday will be appearance number 100 for Ross in a London Welsh jersey in all competitions, with his previous 99 yielding 525 points.
“I knew I was coming up to 100 but I didn’t actually realise I was on 99 until this week,” said Ross. “I’m looking forward to Saturday now; I’ve really enjoyed my three and a half seasons here.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes at the club, both on and off the field, and the reward of getting promoted last season was outstanding.
“I’ve no plans to retire yet – the body’s feeling good. I’ve been lucky enough this season to be given the odd weekend off by Lyn [Jones – head coach] and the conditioning staff realise my age and they look after me a little bit.
“I’ve managed to keep relatively fit and healthy during my time at London Welsh and if that can continue, and I feel I can contribute on the pitch, then hopefully I can carry on for as long as both parties are happy.
“I’m not going to target 150 games – I’ll get to 100 first and then we’ll just take each game as it comes after that!”
Ross won 25 caps for Scotland, the last in 2006, and his playing career spanned Heriots FP, Edinburgh Reivers, Leeds Tykes, Castres and Saracens before arriving at Old Deer Park in 2009.
Ross has witnessed some remarkable changes in his time at the club, including the introduction of professionalism, administration and two losing Championship semi-final campaigns, before culminating in last season’s success and subsequent promotion.
“There have been massive changes over the last three and a half years that I’ve been here,” he said.
“There’s never a dull moment but in a way it brings the lads closer together, and it’s certainly worked in our favour in difficult circumstances both on and off the pitch. We’ve worked very hard as a group and we got our just rewards last season.”
Ross sat out London Welsh’s remaining two Amlin Challenge Cup games after picking up a knock on his calf against Harlequins in their Premiership meeting at the Kassam.
With the English champions having qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals as top seeds and still on course for a possible treble, Ross is aware of the size of the challenge that awaits the Exiles at the Stoop on Saturday, especially as Welsh’s last visit to Quins saw them on the receiving end of a 40-3 defeat.
“It’s going to be a tough day for us but when we played them a couple of weeks ago at the Kassam we played some very good rugby in the second half. Our challenge this weekend is to do it from the word go and not after they’ve already scored 20-odd points,” he said.
“We’ve got to start well otherwise it’s going to be a long day at the office, as we’ve found out twice this season.
“We’ve not really competed in the first 20 minutes against them. The start is going to be massive for us and if we can compete it will hopefully make the afternoon a little bit easier than it was been the last two times.
“I’ve seen Harlequins play twice in the LV= Cup this season and they’ve got the same mentality no matter who they play. If it’s a dry ball and a nice firm pitch, which I imagine it will be at the Stoop, then they’ll try and keep the ball moving.”
Defeats to Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester in the LV= Cup have left the Exiles bottom of Pool 4, but the next two weekends of action are vital says Ross if the club are to hit the ground running for their trip to Welford Road on February 3, as the Premiership run in begins.
“The Amlin Cup gave an opportunity to guys coming back from injury and who’d joined the club recently. Hopefully over the next two weekends we’ll be nice and competitive and we’ll play some good rugby that will lead us back into the Premiership at Leicester.
“Every day in training we’re working on things to try and make sure we’re getting better. We’ve a huge month ahead of us in February and we’ve got to make sure we’re as competitive as possible, get a few wins together and try and pick off one or two of the teams above us.”