Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Scots accentuating All Blacks' negatives

The All Blacks are considered the fittest team in world rugby and any increased pace will suit them more than any other. Photo / Getty Images.
The All Blacks are considered the fittest team in world rugby and any increased pace will suit them more than any other. Photo / Getty Images.

The All Blacks have undergone an unpleasant video debrief of their recent disappointment against Australia and are keen to move on from a result which ruined their winning run.

For their next opponents, Scotland, however, the opposite is true. In a bid to boost morale for Monday morning's test at Murrayfield against the All Blacks, a team they have never beaten, Scotland coach Andy Robinson instructed the team's video analyst to put together a package of lowlights from the men in black.

The Scotsman newspaper reported Robinson's scheme, suggesting it was "an attempt to humanise the world leaders and highlight how they remain vulnerable to pressure''.

The newspaper did not say how many matches Robinson's man had to trawl through to gather enough content for his horror show, but there is every chance the All Blacks' 18-18 draw in Brisbane a fortnight ago will get a good airing.

The try-less test was tough enough for All Blacks supporters to watch live, so it was likely to have been doubly painful viewing for the team as they gathered in their Edinburgh hotel to get it out of their system.

After all, it was at Murrayfield that the All Blacks were supposed to be setting a new world record of consecutive test wins among tier one nations.

Lock Sam Whitelock has confirmed the match video was tough to watch.

"There were a number of things and it wasn't just one person or one area. There were a number of things that accumulated and definitely didn't help our overall game,'' he told media in Edinburgh.

"There are some big learnings for us coming out of it - obviously we didn't play the way that we'd like to and we know we can, so we went over a number of things and carried on from there really.''

Coach Steve Hansen gave his forwards a blast before the Argentina match in Buenos Aires in the recent Rugby Championship for what he considered substandard work, especially at the breakdown area, in the previous test against the Springboks in Dunedin.

If he remains consistent, his pack will get another this week. His complaints in September were about a lack of aggression in the cleanout area which meant slow ball and a subsequent lack of time and space for his backs. What followed at La Plata was one of the most complete performances of the year from his team.

This time he has already identified the set piece as being below par, according to Whitelock.

"Our set piece was very poor and that just didn't give us an opportunity to attack at all so it's something we've got to make sure we nail over the next few weeks.''

The cleanout could also do with a clean-up, with Hansen already highlighting the Scottish pack's size. There is still a question mark over big Sale lock Richie Gray, who has an ankle injury, but Hansen's words could be just the challenge the All Blacks' pack need to lift their game.

If they don't the very least they can expect is another painful video session.

- APNZ

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