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Stafford McDowall shocked to be leading Scotland against Canada

By PA
Glasgow Warriors' Stafford McDowall celebrates after scoring the opening try during the ECPR European Challenge Cup semi-final match at the Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli. Picture date: Saturday April 29, 2023. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Stafford McDowall revealed his shock at being told he would be Scotland co-captain for the first time in the summer tour opener against Canada on Saturday.

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The 26-year-old Glasgow Warriors centre was asked by Gregor Townsend to lead the side along with Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie for the game at TD Place Stadium, Ottawa, where five players will make their debuts with five other uncapped players on the bench.

It will be only a third Scotland appearance for McDowall, who won his first cap in a World Cup warm-up game against Italy in 2023 before making his Six Nations debut against Ireland in Dublin earlier in the year.

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He said: “Gregor told me when we first came into camp last week, he told me and Luke together that we’d be co-captains, so it was bit of a shock.

“I was a bit overwhelmed and was straight on to the phone to my dad and told him and he’s actually coming out to the game on Saturday. So I think he’s pretty excited for it as well.

“He was always planning to come to one game and then as soon as he heard I was co-captain he said, ‘OK, that’s the one, I’ll be there for that one’.

“It is a special day for my family as well. My dad has obviously played such a massive role in my career that I’m glad to share that day with him as well.”

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McDowall believes his status at Warriors will help him cope with the pressures of leading his country.

He said: “I think being part of the leadership group at Glasgow has been massive for my development, having the confidence to put my thoughts forward.

“The leadership group is so open that everyone can share their thoughts and everyone contributes in their own way.

“I don’t think it changes much in terms of what you want to get out of the tour, first and foremost it is your performance.

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“Obviously I don’t have a lot of caps myself but I am probably one of the older, more experienced pros in that team.

“If I can lead by playing my own game and playing my own game well, then that’s probably the best way to do it.

“I think everyone’s just really excited to play for Scotland. Obviously we have a lot of new caps in the same game and they’re all just really happy to put the best foot forward here.”

After taking on the Canadians in Ottawa, the Scots face the United States in Washington on July 12, then meet Chile in Santiago on July 20 before finishing off the tour against Uruguay in Montevideo seven days later.

Fixture
Internationals
Canada
12 - 73
Full-time
Scotland
All Stats and Data

McDowall believes the confidence from Glasgow’s stunning success against Bulls in the United Rugby Championship final in Pretoria last month, where they came back from 13-0 down to win 21-16, will percolate through the Scotland squad, albeit he did not play in the game due to a hand injury.

He said: “The boys who played in that final and everyone in the squad I guess, has just taken so much confidence from the fact that they went to a place like Pretoria and definitely didn’t have their own way.

“They went 13-0 down before the end of the first half. It shows everyone that it can be done in probably one of the toughest places to play rugby in the world, against a good team as well.

“It’ll give everyone massive confidence that when it comes to those tough points in games, they just know we’ve got the players and we’ve got the systems in place to stick it out.

“Obviously I didn’t get the chance to play in the final but to be a part of it, seeing the way the team prepared through the week and the confidence they took into that game and the way they handled the tough moments, it definitely filtered right through the whole squad and hopefully will filter down to here as well.”

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