Rugby: Rambo will be ready for first blood in Australia

Stuart McInally will take encouragement from the experience of Nathan Hines when he arrives today in Australia to join up with Scotland’s rugby squad.

The 21-year-old Edinburgh back row, nicknamed Rambo, has been called out uncapped to provide injury cover just as Hines was 12 years ago when Scotland were touring Australia.

Within a week, Hines was beginning an international career which only ended, 77 caps later, after this season’s World Cup. Speaking to the Evening News during a visit to George Watson’s College where he was once Head Boy before heading for Edinburgh Airport, McInally, whose inclusion has been prompted by a hand injury to John Barclay, said: “Nathan Hines’ first step on the ladder came with a call to join a tour as emergency cover and more than 70 caps later he was still in the squad.

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“I view this is another step on the ladder for me and I always said that, while I might take a couple of years to make the squad, once there it is my intention to stay.

“I trained with the Six Nations team before the match against France this year only to have to drop out with a knee injury.

“I don’t know what the up-to-date situation with John Barclay is or what will happen in the Australia Test. I’m just going to keep my head down and train as hard as I can. If I get a sniff against either Australia or Fiji or Samoa then I aim to take it.”

McInally revealed he had 24 hours to prepare himself for the long-haul flight.

“I was in Aberdeen visiting my girlfriend when Scotland team manager Gav Scott called and initially I was due to head out on Wednesday evening. Then I was told I had 24 hours to pull things together so I was a bit more relaxed about heading back home, collecting my boots then proving my fitness at Murrayfield after a hamstring injury.”

The injury may well have cost McInally his place in Edinburgh’s team for the semi-final of a Heineken European Cup campaign which saw him start four sectional matches, collecting a try and a Most Valuable Player award from the opening win at London Irish. “I hadn’t been expecting any problems with my fitness test this week but it was good to come through and I also take confidence from being first on the list to fly out.

“I was disappointed not to be picked originally but fully understood that I had to be starting for Edinburgh and the hamstring problem put paid to that.

“It wasn’t unexpected that I missed selection but I have started using disappointments like that as a major motivation.

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“The decision to withdraw from contention for a place in the semi-final was mine, in conjunction with Dan Moore who assists Edinburgh with the rehabilitation of injured players.

“We tested the hamstring on the Wednesday before the semi and I realised that even if I had been on the bench I could have come on and left the field again with five minutes.

“In potential circumstances like that. there was only one decision; still, it was nice to hear (Edinburgh coach) Michael Bradley tell me I’d made major contributions along the way.”