If and when he runs out against Sharks on Saturday, Grant Gilchrist will become the fourth player in Edinburgh’s history to have played 200 games for the club, and the second to reach the milestone in a month.  

Gilchrist, who made his Edinburgh debut against Cardiff in 2011, will join WP Nel, Chris Paterson and all-time appearance record holder Allan Jacobsen as a double centurion in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals in Durban.  

The club’s co-captain said he grew up supporting the team when they played at Meadowbank.  

Gilchrist said: "To get this many games for Edinburgh was not even a dream of mine. I desperately wanted to play for the club.  

“To play for the club once was a dream. To reach 100 games was so special but to reach 200 and be in the same conversation as those guys I grew up idolising is really special.” 

He wants to mark the occasion by reaching a European semi-final for the third time in his 13 years with the club.  

The former Scotland captain continued: “I come into this place every day with a smile on my face because I love representing this club, I love preparing for games and I love taking the field and giving my all for the fans and for everybody through the years who has helped me.  

“It means a lot and everything is focused on what would be a really special way to mark it – getting to a European semi-final.” 

Edinburgh return to Durban just two weeks after losing to the Sharks, and Gilchrist is well aware of the size of the challenge – both literal and metaphoric – that awaits the capital club.  

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““There’s no bigger challenge than going away to South Africa,” he said.  

“I have never shied away from a challenge. This is what it’s all about for me – going to test yourself against a big, physical pack of forwards who are going to look to dominate us.  

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“There was lots to like in that performance, we just weren’t accurate enough. When we had the ball, we just weren’t able to put our game on them.   

“This weekend we can’t take that hard work for granted - we need to do that again. We are going to have to go to dark places and scrap for absolutely everything.  

“But then when we have the ball and are exiting and kicking, we have to be more accurate. When we do that, I believe we can win the game.” 

In Gilchrist’s first season, Edinburgh reached the Heineken Cup semi-finals, beating Toulouse in front of nearly 40,000 fans at Murrayfield in the last eight.  

Edinburgh also lost the 2015 Challenge Cup final to Gloucester, while there have been missed opportunities since, like the 2019 Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Munster, and last year’s Challenge Cup round of 16 elimination by Leicester Tigers.  

While he’s no plans of retiring any time soon, Gilchrist knows time is running out for him to get his hands on a trophy with the club.  

He said: “I’ve never taken that final step. I’ve played in a couple of semi-finals and a few quarter-finals. There is a bit of regret from those games.  

“I’d love to finish having had a year where we put it all together.  

“In these knockout games, you’re playing top teams and you’ve got to be at your best. We are three wins away from silverware but it’s really important as well that you don’t lose sight of one game at a time.  

“On our day if we get everything right, we can beat anyone.  That’s got to be our attitude going forward in this competition and in the URC.” 

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As a club, Edinburgh have taken great strides in the 13 years since Gilchrist made his debut. They’ve moved out of Murrayfield and got a home of their own at The Hive, but he knows winning a trophy is the next step on the club’s journey.  

"We want to win,” said Gilchrist in typically passionate fashion.  

“We’ve got a solid platform every year. It is about ‘can we take that next step?’ That next step is winning something. 

"It would change everything if we won a trophy here. It would be enormous.  

“It would mean we have a winning culture, a winning organisation. The fans would keep growing and growing. This place would keep growing. That is what we want to do over the next few years.” 

With Nel hanging up his boots at the end of the season, Gilchrist is the only one of Edinburgh’s 200 club that could overhaul Jacobsen’s record of 273 games for the club. He’s not ruling it out, either. 

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“Never say never,” he said.  

“I'm going to keep trucking for another couple of years and if I feel I'm good enough I'll be here because I absolutely love playing for this club and I've no plans to walk away.” 

At 33, he’s almost four years Nel’s junior and insists he’ll take inspiration from the veteran tighthead.   

“Locks can go a bit longer than the rest. WP has shown me the way. We'll see. If I can keep trucking and keep playing the way he has late in his career, I'll be doing something right.”