McInally relishing 'biggest challenge yet'

Hooker Stuart McInally is well aware of the challenge Scotland face this Saturday in Dublin.

Ireland currently sit top of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations table after an unbeaten run in the opening rounds, beating France, Italy and Wales.

Put simply, a win for the men in blue would redress that balance, putting them level on matches-won and right in contention for the championship going into the final round.

“Facing Ireland will probably our hardest challenge yet,” said McInally.

“They have strength across the park and they are so well coached by Joe Schmidt. They’ve had good consistency in that for a number of years now.

“They make a lot of metres because they look after the ball. Their carries are, a lot of the time, twice as many as their opposition.

“Playing over there is going to be special. Knowing how important a win is for us and what it could do for us going into the week after.

"We’re putting all our efforts into this one game to see where it takes us.”

The 27-year-old has started in all Tests this campaign and featured for the full 80 minutes against France and England, an uncommon occurrence for a front-row forward.

“I’m just happy to be playing rugby,” he added.

“Compared to my fitness last year I feel like I’m nights and days ahead of that and that’s just because I’ve been playing more for Edinburgh this season and Scotland too.

“It’s good to on the pitch for 80 minutes and it’s nice to see in the final whistle, especially last week against England, which was so special.

“I pride myself on my fitness. When training I try and keep up with the back-rows as best as I can and get as much out of it as I can. As long as I perform on the pitch, hopefully I’ll stay on again.”

Scotland know they’ll have to dig deep in Dublin but McInally says the team are not focused on stats and historic records of the team’s away form.

“We’ve beaten some good teams away from home so I’m not too worried about that.

"We are well into this competition now and we have a clear strategy to go over there.

“There’s no hiding it. We play better at home than we do away, the stats will tell you that, but there is no doubt in our minds that we can win, we just have to put in our best performance this weekend.”