All Blacks insist they value Scottish link

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THE NEW Zealand rugby camp have been quick to downplay the comments of a newspaper columnist by insisting that they do not believe Test matches with Scotland have lost their appeal.

All Blacks attack coach Ian Foster, responding to claims by Chris Rattue, a rugby league writer in the New Zealand Herald, that Scotland are no longer good enough to face the All Blacks, said he believes the 
historical links between the countries, going back in rugby to 1905 and further in terms of human migration, make this an important meeting in the sporting calendar.

“We have massive respect for Scottish rugby,” he said. “It has a great history and this is my first tour here and I can’t wait. I am excited. I’ve watched Scotland play for years, so playing at Murrayfield and being involved is going to be fantastic, and we have a whole range of new guys in this team who are excited about that opportunity too. Scotland are a very, very capable team and we’re aware of that.”

Foster pointed to the Kiwis’ recent 18-18 draw with Australia as being the major motivation for producing a top-class performance at Murrayfield on Sunday rather than a fear about becoming the first team to lose to Scotland.

“We have come off the back of a pretty poor performance and have spent a few days searching for answers as to why we had a hiccup in Brisbane,” he explained.

But, despite confirming that New Zealand plan to field all of their 32-man squad in the opening two games of their tour against Scotland and Italy, he denied that they were being classed as trials for the anticipated harder Tests with Wales and England.

Underlining that is the presence of Same Cane, the Chiefs openside flanker who speculation yesterday had as a starter this weekend.

Cane is typical of the breed of young talent that seems to appear from nowhere in New Zealand, the 20-year-old from Rotorua having scored twice on his debut against Ireland in June, only a year after starring for the under-20s in the Junior World Championship.