Scotland will welcome a sports psychologist into their camp
later this week in an effort to exorcise the mental demons
that seemingly take occupation whenever the All Blacks are
The hosts will also look to their Australian skills coach
Scott Johnson to provide some insight into what sort of
mentality has to be adopted to beat the All Blacks. Johnson
is the globe-trotting maverick who, as a former head coach of
Wales, once described New Zealand as a "poxy little island in
He and Scotland's Australian defence coach Matt Taylor know
how to prepare the underdog, sniff out weakness and get under
the All Blacks' skin - skills that will be vital reckons
Scotland coach Andy Robinson.
"[Sports psychologist] Floyd Woodrow has been working with us
and he joins us again on Thursday," said Robinson. "But we
have two Australians in the management and they have been
involved in teams that have beaten New Zealand. The approach
they take to taking on New Zealand and the rivalry they have
... it comes through.
"What is key for us is having that belief in each other and
that the players understand their roles, they go out and
execute their roles and not hold anything back."
The Scots, lovers of history and those who defy it, are
acutely aware that in more than 100 years of trying, they are
yet to beat the All Blacks. Such bare facts are not easy to
digest or ignore and Scottish teams in the past have often
been beaten by the All Blacks long before kick-off.
Robinson has named what he hopes is a side with the requisite
physicality and wider skills to make Monday morning's (NZT)
encounter a lively and engaging contest. The enormous locking
duo of Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton have been passed fit to
provide an abundance of clobber to the pack.
Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw are a talented, ball-playing
inside duo and in Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser there is strike
power in the back three. The key to Scotland's chances
doesn't necessarily lie in selection, though.
The right bodies can be put in the right jerseys, but that
won't be enough. Scotland need belief they can compete,
belief they can actually win and the mental strength to not
be overwhelmed by the weight of occasion should they have
even a sniff of a chance to win.
Earlier this year, the Irish, who share a similarly barren
history against the All Blacks, played to the cusp of a
victory and then imploded. They felt the pressure, tightened,
lost focus and, in a flash, felt their hearts break as Daniel
Carter nailed his late dropped goal.
For the Scots to be challenging that deep into the contest
they know they have to blitz the opening 20 minutes -
something they have failed to do in their previous two
clashes against the All Blacks.
"We know the history and we know New Zealand will be
physical," Robinson said. "A key component for us is what
happens in the tackle contest and two years ago a number of
our players experienced the ferocity of New Zealand in the
tackle contest and their ability to execute turnovers.
"They scored four tries when we had the ball and it is
important for us that we control the ball and control the
scoreboard in the first 20 minutes."
- By Gregor Paul in Edinburgh