A captain ready for the job
Excitement, the challenge and a captain ready for the job – Stuart McInally and vice-captain Greig Laidlaw attended the eve-of-match press conference at the team hotel in Shinagawa, Tokyo and discussed their long-awaited Rugby World Cup Pool A opener against Ireland tomorrow at 8.45am BST – live on ITV/STV.
On the excitement in the camp now the first game is almost upon them:
"I feel pretty proud to be captain for the first game. We are just excited to get going as a group. We have been here for two weeks and had two months of good training before that. I feel like this game has been a long time coming. We have been training well and we are ready to go. I certainly feel like we are in good shape."
On the challenge of facing Ireland and their forward pack:
“We know exactly the challenge that faces us tomorrow. Ireland are an excellent side, they are a team that we know well but we are confident we are going to put in a good performance.
“We have done a lot of analysis on Ireland, we have our game plan in place and we are confident of executing it tomorrow.
“I think it is going to be a really tight game. We are excited to go up against their forward pack. They have got a strong pack but we do as well. We tested ourselves against Georgia, and we did well. We know what is coming against Ireland and we are ready for the fight.”
We have been training well and we are ready to go. I certainly feel like we are in good shape. Stuart McInally, captain
Greig Laidlaw named as Vice Captain on the excitement of the Rugby World Cup and the importance of staying concentrated.
On what McInally brings to the captaincy (a job Laidlaw has done a record 39 times):
"He has been an excellent leader. He does his leadership on the field, he has the full backing of the team and we respect him. It is good to have a fresher voice, someone newer to the role. He is going to do a fantastic job, both now and for years to come.
“It is up to the leaders round about him – myself included – to give him the support he needs.”
On his own excitement at playing in his second World Cup:
“It is going to be my last World Cup, that is for sure. But any time you pull on the jersey, you have to savour it. I get the same excitement whenever Gregor names the team – the nerves, it all comes rushing back. It is awesome to be involved but we all want to be involved in a successful team. It is up to us to put our best foot forward.”
On his popularity in Japan, and whether poster boys Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell are happy:
“I certainly seem to be a bit of a favourite. It is certainly amusing for the boys, but it is unusual for me! They are playing it down but they are probably pretty gutted.”
On the importance of staying concentrated against Ireland:
“Ireland are a smart team, and they are coached extremely smartly under Joe Schmidt. We need to concentrate for 80 minutes.
“In 2017 when we beat them, no one switched off but this year we switched off on two occasions and conceded 14 points. If you do that against Ireland, you are making a difficult job that much more difficult.
“It is important we construct an 80-minute performance, full of concentration.
“We certainly have the drive in us, but it is all about the performance. Our standards are high, every man is pushing the next one and we are looking to put our best foot forward tomorrow.”
We certainly have the drive in us, but it is all about the performance. Our standards are high, every man is pushing the next one and we are looking to put our best foot forward tomorrow. Greig Laidlaw, vice-captain