Stuart McInally did not attend the post-match press conference after Sunday’s humbling 27-3 defeat to Ireland in Scotland’s World Cup opener because he was laid up with severe cramp, so the national team captain fronted up to the press in Kobe yesterday afternoon and it was clear from his general demeanour that he was shaken by what had happened in Yokohama.

It was also a clear that he was at a loss to explain why his team, after so much pre-tournament positivity, could be so comprehensively over-run in a match of such magnitude.

“I look back at the week to see if there is anything we could have done differently and I don’t believe we could have,” he shook his head. “All we could do is perform and we did not perform. That is why it is frustrating. We will sit down as leaders and discuss ways of doing it better. Ireland are a quality side and they started with loads of energy and we struggled.”

While Scottish rugby supporters are used to having their hopes built up and then dashed by bumbling performances in key matches, this one seemed to sting more than any other. There has been a furious backlash on social media and those calling for perspective have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of vitriolic posts.

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McInally acknowledged that the team are very aware of what is being said and admitted that it hurts, but he added that the only way to silence their critics is by putting in a hugely improved performance against Samoa next Monday.

Even that is not going to appease all of those who have become disillusioned by Scotland’s lack of consistency under Gregor Townsend – but it would at least be a first step in the right direction.

“We can’t ignore it. It is all over social media. It isn’t something we go looking for. Unfortunately, it is the way it is. You do stumble across it,” said a clearly bruised McInally.

“Based on the way we played yesterday, I don’t think we are not due any criticism. It’s a professional sport. We are expected to play well and we didn’t play well,” he added.  “We criticise ourselves really heavily as well, and that criticism comes from within, from what the coaches say about our performances and what we demand from each other. We are hard on each other, and we are desperate to do well in this tournament.

“We know we did not play well yesterday. It was not through lack of effort or through lack of preparation. Everyone took the field, and everybody did all they could to win that game. Sometimes you don’t play well, and we didn’t play well. 

“They played really well and beat us. We have to learn from it, of course we do, we can’t just bin it and forget it. We are not going to play Ireland again. We have to turn our focus to Samoa and how we are going to beat them. Nobody is hurting more than the players and the management at the moment.

“We are certainly not doubting our ability to finish this pool strongly. It is something that is going to focus us now. We have to win every game to get out the pool. That is a challenge because we have some good teams in this pool.”

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Samoa play their first game of their World Cup campaign against Russia in Kumagaya tonight, so we will have a better idea of exactly what to expect from the South Sea Islanders after that – but recent history tells us that a serious challenge lies in store.

Scotland have come out on top in five of the last six matches against between the two sides but have never finished more than seven points ahead of Samoa. In the one game Samoa won, in Durban during a tri-nations tournament in the summer of 2013, the score was 27-17, meaning the aggregate score over this period is +3 to Scotland.

“They are a big physical side and have excellent skills,” concluded McInally. “They are very good on counter attack so we will have to be careful how we play against them. They have dangerous runners. 

“We have not done too much focus on Samoa yet as we had been preparing for Ireland, but once we have our meetings over the next couple of days our game plan against Samoa will ensure we have a strategy to combat their players.”