EDINBURGH RUGBY captain Stuart McInally is due to return to the team ahead of one of their most important clashes of the season on Friday.

The capital side face Munster in Cork and the return of McInally will be a significant boost to head coach Richard Cockerill.

The hooker was afforded an extended break after Scotland’s World Cup campaign in Japan, with his last competitive appearance coming almost seven weeks ago. However, he is now back training with the Edinburgh squad and assistant forwards coach, Stevie Lawrie, admits he has been delighted to see him back in action.

“It’s massive (having him back),” said Lawrie.

“He’s your top 10 percent. He comes into work every day and his output is outstanding. So if involved, he will bring that energy to Munster.”

Only McInally and his compatriot at Glasgow Warriors, Jonny Gray, were given six weeks off after their return from Japan but Lawrie is certain that giving the Scotland captain adequate time to recover from his exertions at the World Cup has paid off.

“He seems rejuvenated, he seems excited,” said Lawrie.

“It was obviously a tough campaign for all the Scotland guys but he seems refreshed. For all of the players, World Cups are tough. I’ve not been to one myself but they say there’s a level of mental fatigue afterwards so it’s absolutely right to get a break. But it’s good to get him back in leading the troops.”

Lawrie played alongside McInally when the latter was in the early stages of his Edinburgh career, but that was in the days when the now captain was a flanker. He has since converted to hooker and Lawrie, who is in his first year coaching at the club, admits to being hugely impressed at how well McInally has adapted to the switch.

“He has been excellent,” said Lawrie.

“The work with Simon Hardy, the throwing coach- he has already documented how that has helped. That is an area when you make the transition that is probably the toughest area to fix. You see with his performances with Scotland he is now one of the best throwers in the world. He is very long in the tooth as a hooker now.”

This Friday’s clash with Munster is, acknowledges Lawrie, hugely significant. The Irish side are currently top of Edinburgh’s conference and so a positive result would give Cockerill’s men a boost in their attempt to qualify for the play-offs.

In their last outing, against Bordeaux-Begles in the Challenge Cup, Edinburgh let a lead slip to draw with the French late on. While that was a disappointing result, Lawrie is certain there will be a positive reaction this week in Cork.

"We want a bit of reaction to the weekend," he said.

"You don't want to be reactive but this is an occasion for a reaction because we very much feel it was two points dropped. Bordeaux are an outstanding side but we put ourselves in a position to win that game and the draw felt more like a defeat afterwards. We reflected on that.

"We are going there needing to get conference points, they are in our conference and leading it so it is vital we are switched on to our task."