McInally: Edinburgh can’t afford to make it easy for Munster

Stuart McInally hopes Edinburgh can be inspired by the Thomond Park atmosphere
Stuart McInally hopes Edinburgh can be inspired by the Thomond Park atmosphere
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Edinburgh co-captain Stuart McInally admitted that some “stern words” have been said in the wake of last Friday’s 33-20 home defeat by Leinster.

Alan Solomons’ team leaked five tries to the Irish province, something which has hurt a side who have prided themselves on being stuffy and hard to break down, and McInally knows there will have to be vast improvement in that department when they face Munster in Limerick tomorrow afternoon.

It is another tough task but the Scotland hooker said there is a burning desire to ensure they don’t head towards the end the opening month of league action with a record of won one, lost three.

“It will be a really tough game,” said the 26-year-old. “We’ve watched a lot of them this week. They are a force to be reckoned with, especially at Thomond Park. I’ve had a lot of tough games there. I didn’t play in the one we won over there at the start of the season a couple of years ago but I was doing the BBC Alba commentary for that and was absolutely buzzing. I know we can do it.”

As well as watching this weekend’s opponents, there was a less than pleasant post-mortem on their own display from last Friday.

“The review session was tough and rightly so, we were very poor. There were some pretty stern words said.

“The boys know it wasn’t good enough. We created a hell of a lot, which in seasons gone past we maybe wouldn’t have, but we probably left about three tries out there. We really thought we could have hurt them but our defence was terrible. There has been a big focus on that this week to get it right.”

McInally is sharing the club captaincy with lock Grant Gilchrist this season and, while it has not got off to the best start, he is confident things will improve. “I would love it if we were the finished article already. It would make me and Gilco’s jobs in our first year as co-captains a lot easier. But we’re not,” said the former flanker who now has nine caps for his country.

“We’ve got a lot of learning still to go. We always said it was going to be a process for me and Grant, with ups and downs, but I’m a firm believer it’s not the way you start it’s how you finish. We’ve just got to make sure we get better every week and we’ll be fine.

“It’s just a slight shift in mindset. We’ve talked a lot about making the transition from attack to defence.

“We feel very excited about what we can do with the ball but it’s about making that transition when we don’t have the ball and feeling excited that we can get it back. It’s all about turning the switch between the two. It’s an individual responsibility and that’s what the guys have been told this week, get your own head right, and we’ll look to be that team we have been for the last couple of years with a very proud defensive record.”

McInally added: “New faces are settling in well. Duncan Weir has been a fantastic addition to the squad in terms of the way we’re looking to play. Having someone of his footballing ability is handy. It will take a few more games but I feel we’re making strides.”

Edinburgh played Munster in Cork last season and the joint-skipper is looking forward to returning to Thomond Park – one of the most iconic, and daunting, venues in European rugby.

“Thomond Park is certainly one of the hardest venues to play at, particularly when it’s packed out,” said McInally. “I’m not sure what the attendance will be on Saturday but I remember playing there in the Heineken Cup and it was a pretty special atmosphere. But I love playing at places like there and Ravenhill, or Kingspan as it is now.

“Players feed off it. It’s a bit more of a cauldron but away teams can be as lifted as the home team by that kind of thing. If you’re playing at this level that’s the kind of thing you want to experience so it won’t impact us negatively.”

Munster are likely to play more of a compact gameplan than Leinster brought to Edinburgh last week and McInally said: “We’re expecting a very physical, forwards-orientated game from them. They’re very structured and it’s going to be a battle of the heavies.”

Solomons names his team at noon today.