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Scots in great shape after pain: McInally

 

By Andy Newport

Stuart McInally believes Scotland's Six Nations growing pains will ensure they stand tall at next month's World Cup.

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Head coach Gregor Townsend was forced to turn to a crop of young and inexperienced players earlier this year as a spate of injuries wrecked his championship plans.

There were some painful lessons along the way as they lost consecutive Tests to Ireland, France and Wales before their dramatic final day draw with England at Twickenham.

But hooker McInally - who will skipper the side as they kick-off their build-up to Japan 2019 against France in Nice tonight - believes the emergence of a new generation that includes Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Sam Johnson and Darcy Graham will make the Dark Blues frustrations earlier this year all worthwhile.

He said: "I actually think the Six Nations was really good for us in terms of allowing us to blood players and get some of the younger guys some more experience.

"Those guys will be better off for that now. They've come through some tough games in the Six Nations.

"They have been blooded in now and guys who maybe only had a handful of caps are now into double figures. That is only a good thing for them and a good thing for the team.

"The great thing about our squad right now is that everybody is fit so hopefully over the next four games we'll get a real true reflection of where we're at," he added.

Tonight's clash with Les Bleus on the Riviera is the first of four Tests lined up by Townsend as he looks to get his men in shape for the gruelling conditions they are set to face in the Far East.

But it will also be a crucial gauge of how certain individuals are shaping up as the head coach prepares to name his 31-man squad on September 3.

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