Tommy Seymour, however, regards such an attitude as closer to madness than wisdom. Yes, the Glasgow winger acknowledges, of course New Zealand represent the ultimate test in rugby, one from which no Scotland team has ever emerged victorious. But, he argues, it is a self-inflicted handicap to go into this Autumn Test series presuming that another defeat by the All Blacks is bound to ensue.
“You’re already on a very bad front foot – if you can even call it a front foot – if you go out earmarking two or one out of a series of three,” Seymour said on Tuesday.
“Because where do you draw the line in your thinking? Do you think, ‘We can do this up to this point, but we’ll just forget about that and focus on this’?
“There’s no way of getting around it, New Zealand are the best team in the world and they’re going to be a ferocious test for us. But we can ill afford to think about that right now. We can’t disregard it, but we can’t think about that now.” Indeed, the obvious risk for Scotland in thinking too hard about the New Zealand game is that they will take their minds off the immediate task, Saturday’s match against Argentina. “We’ve got a really stern challenge against Argentina first,” Seymour added. “It’s going to be a full 80 minutes against them.
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“Argentina are going to be a huge challenge. They played incredibly well in the Rugby Championship, could have got a couple more wins, so they’re going to be very confident. They’ll be looking to come over here and cause a lot of chaos for us in our own backyard, specially considering what we did in the summer over there.
“They’ll be disappointed in that and they’ll be looking to get one back.
“We’re really focusing on getting a consistent level of performance. It’s got to be 80 minutes of consistent rugby week in, week out. If we can do that, then, hopefully, that turns into wins.”
In common, it seems, with much of the Scotland squad, Seymour is coming into the Autumn Tests not long after returning from injury – in his case a severe head knock sustained in Glasgow’s 15-13 win at Montpellier late last month. The result of a collision with Australia lock Sitaleki Timani, that led to Seymour being stretchered off, although he was able, after treatment, to watch the second half from the bench.
“I think it’s fair to say it was [a clean knockout]. The guy’s a pretty big dude – I don’t know what I was thinking, to be honest with you. I’ll not be running that line again.
“I was a little bit groggy. It ebbed and flowed as concussions do a little bit. But they took their time in the changing room, the boys went out for the second half, and I waited until I was feeling grand, or as good as I was going to feel at that point. I really wanted to get out and catch the rest of the game, and I felt okay watching it.”
In fact, Seymour’s only real moment of discomfort as he watched his team-mates make their way to victory was when he took a call on his mobile from his concerned girlfriend, and quickly realised that he was being shown on the giant screen at the stadium. “I hadn’t got through to my girlfriend in the changing room – she was busy phoning other people, my mum being one of them – and when she phoned me I thought it best to pick it up and let her know I was all right.
“When I picked it up I looked across, and as I did the camera panned to me and I saw myself. I think I literally said, ‘I’m okay, but I have to go because I’m being broadcast on the big screen here.’ It was a very brief chat, but I think everyone will understand why I answered my phone in that circumstance.
“The body has recovered nicely and I’ve been taken good care of. All the boxes have been ticked, all the protocols have been done – it definitely wasn’t rushed. I did a large portion of the stuff with the guys last Friday, but not all of it. Monday this week was my first back-in-full-training day.”
If Seymour is today named in the team to play Argentina, he can expect to line up alongside a fair number of his Glasgow team-mates. He is confident that the Warriors’ fine current form will help ensure that Scotland go into this opening test with morale high, but he also believes that, if they are to have any chance of making it three out of three, the national team will have to do a lot more than merely replicate Glasgow’s recipe for success.
“[The number of Glasgow players in the squad] helps a lot in the aspect that guys are coming in with a lot of confidence, with each other as well. Guys are really confident enjoying playing their rugby. They’re trying things, moving the ball around.
“It’s great to see so many guys coming in from Glasgow. But that being said, the other guys that are coming in from England, France, wherever it may be – the vast majority if not all of them are incredibly confident individually.
“As a squad, we’re focusing on bringing in those confidence levels domestically, but we focus on us as a unit. There can’t be this void of certain partnerships from the same club being effective, and if a guy comes in from outside that, they can’t be as effective.
“It is important that we focus as a Scottish rugby team, not as a collection of club-based players. We have to create an identity that is solely Scotland rugby.”
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