Stuart McInally has told Wales’ Grand Slam-chasers to get ready for a battle after warning Scotland will not go down without a fight. The Scots’ title dreams are already dead after defeats to Ireland and France.
But Warren Gatland’s outfit can take a step closer to their first clean sweep since 2012 with victory at Murrayfield on Saturday. New Scots skipper McInally insists his team will come out swinging as they look to make up for the pain suffered in their last two games.
The Edinburgh hooker said: “We can’t win the championship but we can win. That’s all we’re focusing on. We’re at home and we don’t go down at home without a fight. All we’re focused on is our group and going out there and playing at home in front off a sell-out Murrayfield. That’s really exciting for the players.
“Not only exciting, but something we embrace as a pressure as well. There is expectation from people that come and watch us and we love that. We love that pressure and we want to make sure we do everybody proud. The goals we set at the start of the tournament we’ve fallen short of but we can beat Wales tomorrow and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Scotland kicked off the Six Nations with a straight-forward victory over Italy. But Gregor Townsend’s team played a part in their own downfall in the losses that followed as Ireland and France were both handed wins.
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And drastic improvements will be required if they are to avoid Wales stretching a run that has seen them triumph in 12 of their last 13 head-to-head matches. “We fell way below our standards in France and that was so disappointing,” admitted McInally. “We expect so much more of ourselves.
“The great thing is we’re now back at Murrayfield in front of a sell-out crowd and we get a chance to put those wrongs right. That’s something we’re desperate to do as a group of players.
“There’s a great amount of belief in the squad. That’s off the back of performances we’ve done in the jersey before. We’ve fallen short of our expectations in this tournament, definitely.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 8, 2019
“But winning breeds confidence. We won the first game but have lost the next two but confidence comes from winning and belief is something this squad has. We’ve been building it since Gregor took over. I don’t think there’s a lack of belief, we just need to be more accurate with the ball. We hope to do that.”
McInally will lead out Scotland after Townsend decided to bench regular skipper Greig Laidlaw and hand Ali Price his chance to impress at scrum-half ahead of this year’s World Cup. Townsend has already insisted Laidlaw still has a major role to play, while former captain John Barclay will rejoin the leadership group as he makes his return from a long-term achilles lay-off.
But McInally has no designs on still being in possession of the armband by the time Japan 2019 gets under way in September. “No, not at all,” he insisted. “I got asked to be captain on Monday and I’m captain for this game. That’s all I’m thinking about.
“There are loads of great leaders in this team. Grieg is an exceptional leader and so is John. They are up there with some of the best leaders I’ve been involved
“Greig has been excellent. He’s embraced his role from the bench this week and he’s respected that’s what the coaches want. He’s helped me and we’ve had good chats. It’s a different role but from a personal point of view I couldn’t have asked any more of him.”
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