Allan Dell 'grateful' for Scotland opportunity after injury hell

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Scotland's Allan Dell (right) with Stuart McInally
Scotland's Allan Dell (right) training ahead of the Test with Wales alongside captain Stuart McInally

Allan Dell is "grateful" to be given the opportunity of playing for Scotland again after battling back from injury.

The South African-born Edinburgh prop was on the sidelines for a year with back and groin injuries, just after he had been called up to the Lions tour of New Zealand.

"It was a dark time thinking back on it, it was terrible," said the 26-year-old.

"Fortunately the people around me got me through it."

Dell will win his 14th cap in Saturday's Doddie Weir Cup Test against Wales, which kicks off the four-match autumn series.

And he says Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has been key to getting him back into the national squad.

"When we first started working together it was a fun few months," he said. "He's a good coach and he's helped me a lot.

"What you saw with Edinburgh, we lacked quite a bit of confidence.

"When the pressure was on guys didn't have that confidence to play and express themselves and would go into their shells. Cockers has worked hard on that belief that if you're going to do something then do it 100% and back yourself. Even if it's the wrong decision, commit to it. He's given us that belief to back ourselves and play how we want to play and not be shy or scared."

He added: "A year out was a long time so coming in towards the end of last season, getting back in with Richard Cockerill, playing a bit, selection for the summer tour, it has just really built.

"The body is starting to come right, doing the little bits and pieces, getting the continuity with the training.

"It was really tough but I'm just really grateful to be given the opportunity again. It's always a privilege to be involved in the Scotland squad and I hope I can do the best that I can to stay in the team."

Scotland will also face Fiji, South Africa and Argentina in November, all at Murrayfield.

But Dell feels the match in Cardiff against Wales will have a derby feel about it.

"You have to come into the game firing," he said. "You can't to sit back and see how the game is going.

"It's Wales v Scotland in November which is quite odd, but regardless of the occasion you need to start the game firing shots at the opposition.

"If we go in there just feeling our way into the atmosphere it can hurt you. It is a bit of a strange one but we just want to implement the way we want to play, especially with the Doddie Weir Cup on the line. Hopefully we can be the first ones to win that."

McInally returns as captain

Gregor Townsend has welcomed back a number of experienced players for Saturday's tie against Wales.

Dell returns to the side, with just four players retaining their starting spots from the win over Argentina.

Hooker Stuart McInally also returns as captain following injury, while Blair Kinghorn replaces the injured Stuart Hogg at full-back.

Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw miss out due to the game falling outside of the international window.

Scotland squad to face Wales

Dell, McInally (captain), Nel, Toolis, Gray, Ritchie, Wilson, Watson, Price, Hastings, Dunbar, H.Jones, L.Jones, Kinghorn, Seymour.

Replacements: Brown, Berghan, Fagerson, P.Horne, Allan, Gilchrist, G.Horne, Graha,

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