Life has been full of surprises for former international captain Grant Gilchrist in recent years and the lock is aiming to help create another when Scotland face the world’s third ranked side at Murrayfield tomorrow.

The 27-year-old was an unexpected choice of skipper when appointed to the role during Vern Cotter’s first tour as head coach and then for the following autumn’s Tests.

He missed out on that chance because he broke his arm the week before the first of them and, having fought his way back to fitness, was then a shock omission from Gregor Townsend’s squad when he took over as head coach last summer.

With the team having performed well against the All Blacks last weekend it was, then, another surprise when Gilchrist was preferred to Australian-born Ben Toolis in the starting line-up for this weekend’s meeting with the Wallabies.

He is naturally determined to seize the chance that he has been presented with this time around.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” said Gilchrist.

“There is no better feeling than starting for Scotland. I am just really excited and make sure that I play my game out there and do my bit for the team on Saturday.”

He is fully aware that his time out allowed others to show what they could do including clubmate Toolis and his partner in tomorrow’s boilerhouse Glasgow Warrior Jonny Gray.

Gray’s older brother Richie, who is now with Toulouse, is the most senior of Scotland’s locks but is currently out injured, while his Glasgow colleague Tim SwGilkinson has also been a regular in the squad over the past few seasons.

“There I a lot of competition across the board, a lot a second rows, which we know, so it’s a real challenge,” Gilchrist acknowledged.

“You have to perform consistently well for a long time and hopefully tale your chances.

“I am delighted that I am getting my chance this weekend and I intend to take it.”

Blessed with an excellent record in a Scotland shirt, with 10 wins in his 17 matches, Gilchrist knows that the final match of the autumn is critical to how the campaign is seen after Scotland failed to impress in beating Samoa, before they put in a fine performance but just missed out against the All Blacks.

“It’s massive,” he said.

“We have spoken all week about it being just as big a challenge as last weekend. They are a much improved side from the team that we beat and they played really well in the summer so the task is pretty much what it was last week. We are playing one of the best sides in the world at home, which is something that we are relishing but we know where the challenge lies as well.

“We spoke about it all week about the energy and the intensity, that’s got to be your standard all week, how you train and how you play.

At home at Murrayfield the atmosphere will be incredible.

“The crowd will be there again and the minimum requirement is a massive amount of energy from the 15 and the 23.

“And then we need to add in skill and execution of our roles on top of that but I think that if we go in with the energy sky high and our intensity is good then that is the minimum and that allows us to compete with a team like Australia.”