Stuart McInally believes most of Scotland’s 40-strong World Cup training squad are doing their best not to dwell on whether they will be in or out of Gregor Townsend’s final 31 for next month’s tournament in Japan.
This weekend’s clash with Les Bleus on the French Riviera is the first of four Tests lined up by Townsend as he looks to get his men in shape for the gruelling conditions they are set to face in the Far East.
But it will also be a crucial gauge of how certain individuals are shaping up as the head coach prepares to name his 31-man squad.
Four players – Nick Grigg, Kyle Steyn, Henry Pyrgos and Gary Graham – have already been told they will not be on the plane to Japan as things stand and the tension will only be ramped up ahead of the announcement of the final cut on September 3.
“Everyone is just focusing on the game,” claimed the hooker about Scotland’s opening warm-up in Nice. “If you look too far ahead and think about the selection that can sometimes impair you.
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— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) August 16, 2019
“We’re looking to try out some different combinations this weekend and see what works and what doesn’t. But it’s still a Test match and we’re representing the whole of Scotland, so we’ll be treating it like any other international and looking to win it.
“It’s been intense over the last few weeks in camp, especially the closer that we have got to playing games. Some players have obviously been cut from the squad, so there is a very real scenario now that we will be reduced again to a squad of 31.
“However, we have got four Test matches and that will be the time to impress. We knew that the first cut was coming. That’s just part of the process and unfortunately not everyone can go.
“The four guys all trained well and are still be in Gregor’s thoughts if injuries do occur. Yeah, it’s tough but it’s just the way it is.”
McInally added that Scotland’s Six Nations growing pains will ensure they stand tall at next month’s World Cup. Townsend was forced to turn to a crop of young and inexperienced players earlier this year as a spate of injuries wrecked his championship plans.
But McInally – who will skipper the side against France – believes the emergence of a new generation that includes Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Sam Johnson and Darcy Graham will make their early-year frustrations all worthwhile.
With @duncantaylor3 having not played for @Scotlandteam since 2017, @JLyall93 believes it will be like watching a dodo strut down Princes Street when he takes the field #FRAvSCO ?? https://t.co/aC1zAnWWUD
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 15, 2019
He said: “The Six Nations was really good for us in terms of allowing us to blood players and get some of the younger guys some more experience. Those guys will be better off for that now. They’ve come through some tough games in the Six Nations.
“They have been blooded in now and guys who maybe only had a handful of caps are now into double figures. That is only a good thing for them and a good thing for the team.
“The great thing about our squad right now is that everybody is fit so hopefully over the next four games we’ll get a real true reflection of where we’re at.”
– Press Association
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