EDINBURGH RUGBY: McInally aims to follow Ford’s footsteps
Edinburgh Rugby back-row Stuart McInally has set his sights on the career path travelled by fellow club player, Scotland and British & Irish Lions internationalist Ross Ford – to make the positional switch from back-row to hooker.
McInally, 23, has made 58 appearances for his home town club to date and, like Ford, has represented every Scotland age-grade side in the back-row.
He has also represented Scotland A, toured with Scotland overseas and been an unused match-day replacement for the national team.
However, in order to pursue his international ambitions, he will now begin the process of applying his widely-appreciated footballing skills and know-how to transforming himself as a player.
He said: “I’m very excited about this new challenge of learning this position. I think that, if I can master the new skills of throwing and scrummaging, it’s a position I feel I can add value to the pack.
“I’ll continue to play my type of game and hopefully become like an extra back-row on the field, like so many of the top hookers.
“There’s faith in me to deliver this at the highest level and, longer-term, fulfil my international ambitions and play for Scotland.
“I know there’s a huge amount of hard work ahead. I’ll be spending the next year continuing to practice my throwing three times a day. I want to be one of the best hookers in the world. That’s my goal and to bring a different dimension.
“I could have a good career in back-row but with the right application I feel I could be a great hooker.
“I think if it’s managed well, switching to hooker can be a great move for a back-row forward and Edinburgh and Scottish Rugby have been very positive and been hugely supportive.
“Ross Ford has helped a huge amount technically and also helped me make the decision, which I took several months to make.
“That faith, from someone who has made this change and played the game at the highest level, has given me a great deal of confidence.”
Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Alan Solomons, said: “I understand that Stuart is a very talented player and that there is consensus that, in the interest of the advancement of his career, he needs to make this transition to hooker, and we will do everything we can to assist this process.”
Director of Rugby at Scottish Rugby, Scott Johnson, said: “The game of rugby is changing and the position of hooker, while specialist, requires a very diverse range of abilities, which Stuart already possesses: he’s a dynamic and strong ball carrier and has excellent ball handling skills.
“I’m pleased to say that Stuart has taken to the specialist functions of throwing-in and hooking like a duck to water, however, what he needs is time to become used to performing these actions under immense pressure.
“Looking to the long-term, we require greater depth in the position and I believe that, come 2015, Stuart will join the likes of Ross Ford, Richard Hibbard of Wales and Steve Thompson of England w
follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter