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Gunners to forge Fortress Murrayfield – McInally

Guinness PRO12 Editor

31 Aug 2011

Edinburgh back-rower Stuart McInally has promised Michael Bradley’s troops will turn Murrayfield into a fortress for the RaboDirect PRO12 season.

Scotland’s national stadium has been as much of a curse as it has a blessing for Edinburgh since they moved there in 2004 from the Meadowbank stadium.

The 67,000-seater ground rarely reaches even 10 per cent capacity, so the capital club have acted to improve the matchday experience by moving fans from the West Stand to the East Stand with fans having the option of surrounding the pitch to create a more intimate atmosphere.

And having already sampled the new pitchside arrangements in pre-season, McInally believes that can have a big effect on Edinburgh’s home record having won eight league games last season.

He said: “It’s so much better, the crowd is on top of you, the atmosphere can be really loud like that especially last season when we played Glasgow and the Glasgow fans were in the East stand and the Edinburgh fans were in the West Stand.

“The East Stand is right on top of you which is what I think spread the idea to do this.

“I remember going to [Ulster’s} Ravenhill when it was packed and it was very intimidating and it would be nice to emulate that at Murrayfield.

“It is obviously hard because it is a massive stadium and it is an honour to play on the pitch. The new seating arrangements make the stadium more of a fortress this year than it has been previous years.

“A couple of seasons ago we had a really good record at home, last season to be fair it was a good record at home but we had a bad away record, only winning one game.

“That is something we need to improve on this year but the main thing is we want to make Murrayfield a really tough place to come. We are looking forward to making Murrayfield into this fortress.”

It is not just the stadium arrangements that have changed at Edinburgh with Michael Bradley taking over as head coach.

The former Connacht coach has already guided the Gunners to pre-season victories over Aviva Premiership sides Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons.

And while McInally says Bradley is not ripping up the blueprint set by Rob Moffat last season, he has imbibed a new sense of pride in pulling on the Edinburgh jersey.

He said: “I wouldn’t say a massive change in terms of style but Michael has been coming up with his new great ideas, but he has always been keen on keeping the style of Edinburgh and maintain the great reputation. It is an excellent start to the new season.

“He has made us brush up on the history of Edinburgh so I have spent time learning all about who the old heroes were and the oldest rugby matches in Edinburgh.

“It makes you realise playing for Edinburgh isn’t just playing for the club but for the area and the region which is an absolute honour.

“Michael is great at bringing in his ideas and styles of coaching. Now the season is starting it is he can really transfer that in a positive way.”

McInally will miss Edinburgh’s opening RaboDirect PRO12 fixture against Cardiff with a stress fractrure he picked up while on sevens duty.

But he hopes to be back by the end of the month and is already relishing his battle in the back row against the likes of Netani Talei and Dave Denton.

He said: “It has been a really positive pre season for us but it has been frustrating for me to miss out with my injury.

“I think it is the kind of thing where you just have to make sure it is better rather than make it worse.

“If it goes again then I will be out for a longer amount of time so it makes sense to take time out just to get it fixed.

“There is a lot of competition about. Me and David are good friends and we are both competing for the No 8 and 6 shirts as we are both keen to cement ourselves in the back row.

“There is a lot of competition, like there is at any club. It is not something I shy away from I actually really enjoy the pressure it makes work up my pace as well knowing that Denton is ahead of me and also Netani Talei and it’s all about me bucking up my ideas and I need to prove that I should be ahead of them.”