Press Pass with Stuart McInally
Get the latest from Stuart McInally as the Scotland hooker met with media after being named club captain alongside Grant Gilchrist.
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How excited were you to be named club captain alongside Grant Gilchrist for the 2021/22 season?
“I’m really excited for it but I don’t think it really changes anything. It’s something we’ve done for a while now and we’ve got a really good grasp of the squad and how they’re feeling.
“I feel that we’ve both also got a good relationship with Mike from playing with him back in the day. It’s a role that Gilco and I are both comfortable with and hopefully we can build on our leadership over the next year.”
How have you enjoyed working with Mike Blair and has it been a different dynamic considering you played alongside him for club and country?
“I’ve not found it strange at all. It does help having known him for such a long time. I know the standards he expects having been coached by him with Scotland over the past four years.
It’s not like it’s someone who’s straight out of playing. I’ve very much got a player-coach relationship with him now and I know what he’s looking with from his players. And that’s something I can help with, getting those standards across and letting them know what Mike wants and values.”
Have you and the squad set any targets for the upcoming season?
“We’ve not spoken too much about targets or where we want to finish in the league. Obviously there’s been a lot of change and we need to see where we’re at. We’ve got a new head coach coming in with a different style from what we’ve been used to over the last four years.
“We want to retain a lot of the really good stuff but Mike will also want to put his slant on it. There will be teething problems I’d imagine. I’ve been around long enough to know we won’t be the finished article straight away.
“But what I do expect from the players is for them to maintain being a tough team to beat. We’ve worked really hard on our defence and set-piece over the last four years and it’s done well for us in big games. We want to build on that and go into every game trying to win.”
Will you and Grant set about a good cop bad cop style of captaincy?
“It feels like we’ve done this for a while now so it just happens naturally. I know his strengths and the things in training he’ll lead on like the line-out stuff.
“I know he’d tell me off if I started talking about line-outs! He’s the one that runs that. I like to talk about defence and he leaves me to that. And then we look to other leaders for the other aspects.
“I don’t know if there’s a bad or good cop, we just do what comes naturally to us. Leadership has to be authentic, you can’t force something or be a bad cop if you’re not that kind of person.”
How is your neck feeling after picking up a couple of knocks last season?
“So far, so good. I’ve been doing full training and getting involved with contact and scrum stuff. I did a lot of work around my neck in the off-season to try to make it as strong as possible. Full bill of health at the moment – hopefully that stays the case!”
Do you feel like captaincy comes natural to you?
“I’m coming into my 12th season so it’s a role that I’m really comfortable with here. I feel like myself and Gilco are the right men to lead the squad and I know the boys are behind us.
“As a partnership, we can’t wait to lead the squad into a really significant year for the club.”