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Scotland will shatter Wales' Slam dream, vows Stuart McInally

 

Aye aye captain: Stuart McInally is excited about leading Scotland today
Aye aye captain: Stuart McInally is excited about leading Scotland today

By Andrew Baldock

Stuart McInally has told Wales' Grand Slam-chasers to get ready for a battle after warning Scotland will not go down without a fight.

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The Dark Blues' Six Nations title dreams are already dead after defeats to Ireland and France.

But Warren Gatland's outfit can take a step closer to their first clean sweep since 2012 with victory at Murrayfield today.

But new Scots skipper McInally insists his team will come out swinging as they look to make up for the pain suffered in their last two games.

The Edinburgh hooker said: "We can't win the championship but we can win (today). That's all we're focusing on.

"We're at home and we don't go down at home without a fight.

"All we're focused on is our group and going out there and playing at home in front of a sell-out BT Murrayfield. That's really exciting for the players.

"Not only exciting, but something we embrace as a pressure as well. There is expectation from people that come and watch us and we love that. We love that pressure and we want to make sure we do everybody proud.

"The goals we set at the start of the tournament we've fallen short of but we can beat Wales and that's what we're excited about."

Scotland kicked off the Championship with a straightforward victory over Italy.

But Gregor Townsend's team played a part in their own downfall in the losses that followed as Ireland and France were both handed wins.

And drastic improvements will be required if they are to avoid Wales stretching a run that has seen them triumph in 12 of their last 13 head-to-head matches.

"We fell way below our standards in France and that was so disappointing," admitted McInally. "We expect so much more of ourselves.

"The great thing is we're now back at Murrayfield in front of a sell-out crowd and we get a chance to put those wrongs right.

"That's something we're desperate to do as a group.

"There's a great amount of belief in the squad. That's off the back of performances we've done in the jersey before. We've fallen short of our expectations in this tournament, definitely.

"But winning breeds confidence. We won the first game but have lost the next two but confidence comes from winning and belief is something this squad has.

"We've been building it since Gregor took over. I don't think there's a lack of belief, we just need to be more accurate with the ball. We hope to do that."

McInally will lead out Scotland after Townsend decided to bench regular skipper Greig Laidlaw and hand Ali Price his chance to impress at scrum-half ahead of this year's World Cup.

Townsend has already insisted Laidlaw still has a major role to play, while former captain John Barclay will rejoin the leadership group as he makes his return from a long-term Achilles lay-off.

But McInally has no designs on still being in possession of the armband by the time Japan 2019 gets under way in September.

"No, not at all," he insisted. "I got asked to be captain on Monday and I'm captain for this game. That's all I'm thinking about.

"There are loads of great leaders in this team. Grieg is an exceptional leader and so is John.

"They are up there with some of the best leaders I've been involved with.

"Greig has been excellent. He's embraced his role from the bench this week and he's respected that's what the coaches want. He's helped me and we've had good chats.

"It's a different role but from a personal point of view I couldn't have asked any more of him."

Alun Wyn Jones says Wales have "a job to get on with" against Scotland after a week dominated by domestic rugby politics.

Wales will move to within one win of securing the Six Nations title and a Grand Slam if they beat Scotland today. But a debate is raging about so-called 'Project Reset' and how Wales' professional regional game will look from next season.

Talks at Wales' Professional Rugby Board level now appear to be deadlocked, with a proposed Scarlets-Ospreys merger off the table and uncertainty remains.

"For us, it's not a case of carry on regardless, it's a case of being sympathetic to the situation," Wales skipper Jones said.

"We want a few more answers after the Six Nations, but we've got a job to get on with."

Ireland are looming in Cardiff next Saturday, but Wales must first do the business today after coming badly unstuck on their last Murrayfield trip two years ago, losing 29-13.

Scotland vs Wales

Guinness Six Nations:

Murrayfield, Today, 2.15pm

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