Assistant coach Mike Blair shrugged off comments by one the greatest All Blacks of all time, who had predicted New Zealand will “whack” Scotland by what would be a record 60 points at BT Murrayfield on Saturday evening.
Zinzan Brooke, the legendary No 8 who won 58 caps between 1987 and 1997, also used his column on the official All Blacks website to blast the Scots’ performance against Samoa last weekend, which saw them concede five tries in a 44-38 win. “If conditions are firm this weekend at Murrayfield, they could completely run Scotland ragged and whack them by 50 to 60 points,” wrote Brooke.
Scotland’s record defeat by New Zealand was a 69-20 loss in Dunedin 17 years ago, with the 49-3 defeat in 2010 the heaviest at Murrayfield.
“I watched their [Scotland’s] 44-38 win against Samoa last week and it looked more like a Barbarians game than a Test match,” Brooke said. “It was their first hit out of the autumn series but that’s no excuse, given the guys have had 10 Premiership [Pro14] games, play each other regularly and have key combinations within those Premiership teams.”
Brooke concluded his column by saying: “Let’s keep it simple off the base of the scrum, poke the blinds a bit more with the No 8-halfback combination, then get that quick, second phase ball. If we do that, then we’re well on the way to that 60-point humbling I’m picking. Do us proud boys, and show no mercy!”
Scotland skills coach Blair was phlegmatic when Brooke’s words were relayed to him. “That’s probably reflecting the fact that we made more errors than we wanted to [last week],” said the former scrum-half.“That [60 points] is a big scoreline… We’re aware that things didn’t go right in some areas last week, but we did a lot of good stuff as well, so I’m looking forward to the game. “I think the guys are keen to get going. They want to be relaxed, but at the same time it’s a big game and guys will be looking forward to righting a few wrongs from last week, but also building on the good stuff. I don’t think the players will read what Zinzan Brooke’s written on the All Blacks website. “That’s not extra motivation for the players.”
One player who was made aware of the comments was centre Alex Dunbar, who also spoke to the media on Friday.“Everyone has an opinion,” he said. “We’ve got enough leaders in the group and we’ve talked about how we have to start the game. That will be key.”