Press Pass: McInally ready for rugby
Get the latest from club captain Stuart McInally as he this week spoke with press following the team's return to training in the continued build-up to next month's 1872 Cup double header.
How has it been getting off furlough and back into training?
“It's good that we are properly training for something and we are working towards a game on 22 August. It's definitely giving us some purpose. During lockdown, the thing I struggled with and a lot of boys struggled with, you were trying to stay fit but you didn't actually know if there was going to be any rugby this year. You were staying fit in case there was.
“That's great for five or six weeks, and then I hit a bit of a lull. I think it was when England started coming out of lockdown and we didn't. It was just getting a bit tough. But you get through that. Everyone I spoke to seemed to be in the same boat, had that lull halfway through lockdown when they were just getting a bit sick and tired of the routine. Everyone is buzzing to get back playing and now we have a game on the horizon our training is much more relevant to playing rugby.
“Everyone was a bit anxious coming back into it. None of us have really had three months off before when you have not made a tackle or done that training. But a lot of boys have actually seen that as a positive, ironing out any niggles and making sure their bodies are right. We have great numbers training again. It is going to be a busy season but I have found getting back into training is like riding a bike, once you are back on the pitch you get back into that competitive spirit. I feel we will be ready to go.
How prepared will you be to face Glasgow Warriors next month?
“I know what Cocker is like, he just wants us to come in and work hard and get back to what our strengths are this season and continue that. He is someone who has a lot of experience of knockout rugby, so we trust him to design our training schedule around how we best win these games coming up.
“It's definitely a motivating factor knowing that we are not just playing these two games against Glasgow to close out the season, that if we win these games we can put ourselves in a great position to finish top of our pool, which would give us a home semi-final, which would be awesome. It's definitely exciting, I have been at Edinburgh long enough that we have not been in this position many times towards the end of the season since I've been here where we have actually got a chance to really go for it.”
Home advantage usually has a big part to play in derby fixtures - but with no or limited fans, how will this effect you?
“It's definitely a huge advantage when we get 25,000 in at Christmas. Those are the games when you feed off the noise and the emotion of the crowd. I love playing in those games. It will be different because there most likely won't be any fans.
"We love playing at Murrayfield. It is a great thing to get to play the games there. But it's probably not as big an advantage if it does go ahead behind closed doors. It is a good pitch and it is just 15 against 15.”
Four wins and you’re Guinness PRO14 champions - can you afford to dwell on that?
“No. I've been in the game long enough to know that if you think too far ahead you should yourself in the foot. The reality is that if we don't win two games against Glasgow we won't have any other games after that so we have to make sure we are in control of that. If we win these games we will be in a great position to move forward.
“I’m excited at the prospect. We have the ability to reach the Semi-Final and Final, but thinking that we could be champions is something that hasn't crossed our minds.”
Does that make a home Semi-Final important if no home advantage?
“We would love to play it at BT Murrayfield. Not having to travel, being able to stay at home the night before, these things are nice. That all plays into your home advantage; it's not just the crowd. The routine of being able to switch off after training, go home and see your family, things like that are good.
“We would love a home semi for all those reasons and if we do get the chance to get some fans into Murrayfield then that would be good as well. But if we play away in the semi then it is knockout rugby so we will take whatever we get.”
Has anyone returned from lockdown in brilliant or disastrous shape?
“On the whole the boys have been really good! It was a funny experience walking in on day one and everyone was having a wee look at each other. But on the whole the boys have come in in really good shape.
“I certainly enjoyed being able to do a bit more weight training at home. Some boys haven't been able to put on loads of muscle because they’ve not had access to gym equipment and they can't use public gyms. They have generally been doing what they can.
“Some have come in a little bit light because they have lost a bit of muscle mass, but those ones tend to be in really good running shape because they've spent the whole time doing that.
“We get worked hard at Edinburgh and you know that if you come back in bad shape then you'll just get stock on a Watt bike or a rowing machine for four weeks. For a lot of boys, the fear of that has kept them in good shape!”
Have you had a chance to fly again during lockdown?
“General aviation is being allowed again. I have not flown yet but I'll hopefully get back to it. I've had conversations with Murrayfield about stuff like that, just to make sure I'm allowed to do it. Hopefully I get the green light because I do love flying. It is a big part of helping me switch off.
“I see all the planes flying and I'm always getting told off in training when the coaches are speaking and they see me looking up!”