Scots ready for near 'perfect' All Blacks

Nov 16, 2017 - 4:16 PM Gregor Townsend accepts Scotland will have to be at their best if they are to beat a "close to perfect" New Zealand at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The Dark Blues are yet to beat the All Blacks in 112 years of international rugby and face Steve Hansen's side for the first time since 2014 in Edinburgh this weekend.

Townsend has enjoyed a promising start to his career as head coach of Scotland, with a landmark win over Australia in the summer hinting at a new era for Scottish rugby.

Last week's 44-38 victory against Samoa showed both the good and the bad of the Dark Blues, but despite being clear second favourites to win against the back-to-back world champions, Townsend says there are weaknesses in a near "perfect" side.

"Teams have shown they can put New Zealand under pressure, the Lions showed that," he said.

"We understand how difficult it will be but there have been examples of areas where New Zealand haven't been perfect.

"No team is perfect, but New Zealand over the years have been close to that.

"But there are also examples when you don't get it right and sit off them and allow them to play: South Africa conceded 50 points, Australia conceded 40 points before the 50th minute. You have to be at your very best.

"If you let them play and give them easy ball to attack off, you will concede tries."

Captain John Barclay leads Scotland on Saturday - with Cornell du Preez and Zander Fagerson the only changes to the starting XV following injuries to WP Nel and Ryan Wilson.

Barclay this week suggested that part of the battle of playing the All Blacks is a mental one, as teams have to overcome their aura.

Townsend agreed it will not be just a physical clash at the weekend, and said: "It's a challenge for all aspects (of your game).

"Your rugby, decision-making, accuracy in what you do, your fitness - they play at an intensity and pace that not many teams play at - and also the psychological side.

"You have to have your focus and confidence in tough times during games and right throughout that 80 minutes believing you can win."

Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Luke Hamilton and Byron McGuigan all come into the 23, with the latter two set for debuts from the bench.

Source: AAP

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!