'Right now he is very emotional' - Scotland send veteran home after neck injury
Stuart McInally was given an emotional send-off from the Scotland squad following Sunday’s victory over Tonga after the veteran hooker was forced out of the World Cup with a neck injury just over a week after being given a late call-up.
Glasgow’s Johnny Matthews has been added to the group in place of the 33-year-old Edinburgh forward, who announced in April that he was retiring from rugby after the tournament to pursue a new career as an airline pilot.
McInally has had a roller-coaster few months after being included in the provisional 41-man training squad, then cut when Gregor Townsend trimmed his pool to 33 in August.
He was then called to join the squad after his long-time Edinburgh team-mate Dave Cherry suffered concussion when falling down the stairs at the team hotel a fortnight ago.
It raised the prospect of McInally – currently on 49 caps – getting the chance to make his 50th appearance for Scotland at the World Cup before retiring, but that chance is now gone and he is preparing to fly back to Scotland after feeling pain in his neck in training.
“Right now he is very emotional,” said Townsend. “He got a presentation in the changing room from the players and (long-time Scotland and Edinburgh team-mate) Grant Gilchrist gave him a fantastic speech. It’s a very emotional time for all of us, especially Stuart.
“To get the news on Saturday that he wasn’t going to recover in time from a neck injury he picked up in training is so disappointing for him. We all thought this would be a great way for him to end his career, coming out and getting his 50th cap and contributing to our World Cup career.
“That was something he deserved and had earned given what he had put into that jersey over his career and what he has put in over the last three months.
“It’s just bad luck – it wasn’t even an injury in the session, it was more that at the end of the session he felt pain in his neck. He didn’t recover for two days and we had him scanned on Saturday, to see if there was a bigger issue, which there is.”
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