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20 Questions: Ross Neal – London Scottish centre

How’s pre-season going?

Pretty well, thanks. We’ve been training at the Lensbury Hotel which is a great place to train. The facilities there are brilliant.

Do you share the ground with England Sevens?

We swap in and out of the gym sometimes but they have a different schedule to us. They’re often out on the pitch in the mornings while we train more in the afternoon/evenings.

When’s your first pre-season game?

It’s on August 12 against Rosslyn Park and then Cardiff Blues the week after. The conditioning has gone well but we’re looking forward to the games getting going now.

How’s the squad feeling five weeks from the start of the season?

We’ve got a very young group with a lot of players under the age of 25, like myself,,and we’re all very hungry to make our mark. Add to that some experienced heads and we’re in a good place right now.

How’s Dave Morris settling in as the new head coach?

He’s going really well. He’s really big on team culture where, like with the All Blacks, no one is bigger than the team. He’s making the step up from Loughborough in National One but he’s got two very Championship-experienced assistant coaches in Dan George and Jake Sharp.

Started looking at your game plan yet?

We’ve just had our first full contact 15 on 15 sessions which were quite tasty. It was a nice kick up the backside after a couple of months away from tackling.

Targets for the season?

We haven’t talked about it just yet but I think it’ll all be about performance for us and making sure we improve week on week. With the new system you have to finish top if you want to get promoted. You have to win a lot of games for that and that comes with putting in good performances.

Should we expect something different from when Pete Richards was in charge?

Yes, but we’ll remain true to the Scottish way in the sense that we’ll play if we think it’s on regardless of where we are on the pitch.

The new additions up front should lay a nice platform for the backs this season?

We’ve beefed up our pack compared to last season which should see us improve our set piece. We put some time into that so we should be able to compete up front better.

Which position will you play this season?

I was at outside centre in those training games with Ben Mosses at No.12. I can play in both positions but Ben is an out and out inside centre. Nothing is set in stone but that’s how we’re looking at things right now.

How do you get on with Ben?

He’s a really good guy with a lot of experience and he’s a very good distributor. It allows me to concentrate on my carrying in the wider channels.

Why the permanent move from London Irish?

I got caught in that awkward place between being an academy and first-team player. Irish were keen to keep me at first but it fizzled out. I enjoyed my time at Scottish last season so it made sense to make the move permanent.

Does it feels like a real move then?

Yes because it’s a fresh start for me. No one knows me as the academy boy at Scottish. I’m a first team player and that changes a lot of things.

Was it tough to make the step up at Irish?

You’ll have guys like Elliot Daly who left school and played Premiership straight away but it can take some time for others to get their turn. It wasn’t coming at Irish so I had to go somewhere else.

If not rugby, what would you be doing?

If money was no object I’d love to work in a zoo.

In which section?

The Lions always fascinated me but I wouldn’t mind the penguins either.

Favourite cheat meal?

I have a few but Fish and Chips with a full jumbo sausage.

Three dinner guests?

Michael Jordan, Ricky Gervais and Winston Churchill.

Best and worst banter at Scottish?

It’s a tie for worst between Ed Hoadley and Dom McGeekie while Ben Mosses takes the best.

Best and worst dressed?

I’m the best obviously, and Dom picks up worst here again.

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