Stuart McInally gets a platform to prosper

Edinburgh's Stuart McInally in action.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Edinburgh's Stuart McInally in action. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A WEEK after turning out against Edinburgh Accies for Currie in a Scottish Premiership rugby clash, Stuart McInally is preparing to play for them in a British and Irish Cup tie against London Welsh at Old Deer Park.

In a game that will see the Welsh exiles, who now play at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium, return to their ancestral home for the first time since May 2012, McInally is set to gain more of the experience his bosses at Edinburgh Rugby believe can make him an international contender at hooker instead of flanker.

Having lost to Pontypridd and London Scottish so far, Accies will probably need bolstered by draft players and in addition to McInally, who starts on the bench, they will have input from his Edinburgh colleagues Lewis Niven, Robert McAlpine, Alex Toolis and Hamish Watson, all in the pack, with Alex Allan among the subs.

Watson faced Currie last week and compared to that side there are several changes. Ruairidh Bonner and Jamie McCarthy are out injured but there are call-ups for Declan Dinnan, Iain Chisholm and Sam Pecqueur following strong performances for the reserves.

Accies coach Jonny Else, in shrugging off that last-kick 39-40 defeat by Currie, says: “We have learnt a lot after the first round of B&I Cup games and we are looking to continue to improve our performances and compete at this level.”

Meanwhile, the sectional rounds of the Edinburgh Regional Cup reach a conclusion, with most interest centred on a group that sees Stewart’s Melville requiring a win at Livingston to have a chance of progressing, almost certainly alongside Heriot’s who visit Murrayfield Wanderers.

For Stew Mel, Sam Rowlands returns at scrum half after injury, Sam Hampson is given a start at full back and Mike Hanning moves to centre.

Elsewhere, Boroughmuir will be confident of maintaining their 100 per cent record away to Musselburgh. Muir will give a new centre partnership of Graeme Blackhall and Mark Hare a chance to settle and Ben Cooper slots in at stand-off with Neil Rodger replacing Andrew Rose at flanker. Watsonians visit Haddington.