Warriors' Grant Stewart tipped to bounce back from disappointment
With Fraser Brown and George Turner both injured, the youngster has been thrown into the heat of inter-city derby battle but lasted only 40 minutes at Scotstoun on Saturday as Edinburgh took the trophy with a 16-8 win.
Glasgow coach Dave Rennie revealed after the game that Stewart had got a couple of calls wrong as the lineout went badly awry to compound travails in the scrum and Kevin Bryce was introduced at the break.
“Grant’s an excellent player,” said McInally, who took Stewart under his wing during Scotland’s summer tour.
“He’s someone who’s a really, really good ball carrier, a really good defender. I carried once into him and I went back about five metres. He’s an excellent defender and he’ll get better from playing these games.
“He’s only young, he’s playing an attritional position and we also put a lot of focus on our set-piece and I feel he’s only going to get better. He’s definitely one to watch.”
Rennie added: “The lineout was disappointing, but all hookers of all levels have little blips and bad days. We’re not going to hang the kid over that.”
With crucial European games looming, the Glasgow coach was asked if bringing in an emergency loan to cover the position was an option.
“We haven’t closed the door on that,” he said. “We’ve been pretty happy with how Grant has gone in the last two or three weeks. We’ll make an assessment. We’re one ding away from needing someone so we’ll see how we go.”
Scotland’s most-capped player Ross Ford has been kicking his heels at Edinburgh this season but Rennie said: “He’s not someone we’ve talked about.”
Stewart certainly couldn’t be scapegoated on an afternoon when Glasgow were off the required standard across the park.
“We’re disappointed with the performance but it’s not terminal,” said Rennie.
The way that Edinburgh squeezed the life out of the Warriors was reminiscent of that home Saracens defeat at the start of the European campaign and the Kiwi coach accepted that it perhaps showed how Glasgow could be nullified by a certain gameplan.
“Possibly. The key for our quick ball is the quality of our footwork and big men in contact, winning races in and then playing at a tempo,” he said. “The issue last week was that we didn’t work hard enough to get in position quick enough to expose them. We’ll have a look at the footage.
“Everyone is well aware it’s an important part of our game and they will do what they can to slow it down. We just need to be better in that area. If we can get better carries and footwork and win races in we’ll get faster ball and stretch defences.”
McInally, meanwhile, was bursting with pride after ensuring the 1872 Cup will be residing in his home city for another year. “It’s the first time I’ve won here,” he said.
“I wasn’t playing a couple of years ago when we won, so this was a good monkey to get off my back personally.
“I’m immensely proud to lead this team and proud of the last four weeks as well, because we spoke about what we wanted to get out of it and how we wanted to perform, especially in these last two games and especially today, because you still find there’s the odd person who thinks last week was a fluke and questions whether Edinburgh can back it up. We just ignore all that and come in and work hard.”