Rugby Union: Scots fear Maori mauling

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THE SCOTLAND coach, Jim Telfer, yesterday admitted he fears the Maori menace that threatens to destroy his plans for a morale-boosting opening to the international season at Murrayfield today.

The man who guided the Lions to some famous triumphs in the southern hemisphere has long been an admirer of the fervour and intensity that underpins the whole of New Zealand rugby.

That admiration might be tinged with a touch of trepidation after watching the Maoris crush the Edinburgh Reivers 69-3 in an 11-try warm-up at Hawick on Wednesday night.

But as he finalised Scotland's preparations for the non-capped "Test", Telfer was under no illusions about the fiercely proud tradition that his side will have to counter tomorrow.

"One of the reasons why New Zealand are such a force in world rugby is because of the Maori nation," he reasoned.

"Rugby suits their culture - it is very physical, athletic and explosive, and I think the All Blacks are indebted to the Maoris for the development of their rugby. They are a nation within a nation and they are almost of the same standard as the All Blacks, and we will take them as such.

The Maoris' record is such that they have not suffered a single defeat against any touring side since Eastern Province in 1994, a source of particular pride for their long-serving coach, Matt Te Pou.

In his personal message in the Maoris' tour guide, he echoes Telfer's sentiments about the attributes that have led to his side's sustained success over the years.

"Firstly, a team must always be reminded that being well prepared means being able to defeat any side in the world," he notes. Secondly, as Polynesians we are drawn to the game of rugby, in part for its physical nature, but also because of the team culture, which aligns directly with the Maori whanau, or family concept."

Te Pou risked upsetting that family harmony yesterday after making four changes from the side that demolished the Reivers, with the All Black winger Glen Osborne one of those relegated to the bench.

Osborne makes way for another All Black, Caleb Ralph, who comes into the centre with Norm Berryman.

SCOTLAND: D Lee (London Scottish); T Stanger (Edinburgh Reivers), J Mayer (Edinburgh Reivers), R Shepherd (Glasgow Caledonians), C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers); G Townsend (Brive), B Redpath (Edinburgh Reivers, captain); T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), P Burnell (London Scottish); S Murray (Bedford), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians); R Wainwright (Glasgow Caledonians), E Peters (Bath), B Pountney (Northampton). Replacements: A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers), D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers), G Armstrong (Newcastle Falcons), M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers), D Weir (Newcastle Falcons), D Hilton (Bath), S Brotherstone (Edinburgh Reivers).

NEW ZEALAND MAORIS: A Cashmore (Auckland); B Reihana (Waikato), C Ralph (Auckland), D Gibson (Canterbury), N Berryman (Northland); T Brown (Otago), R Duggan (Waikato); L Lidgard (Counties-Manukau), S McFarland (North Harbour), K Meeuws (Otago), N Maxwell (Canterbury), J Coe (Counties-Manukau), T Flavell (North Harbour), G Marsh (Counties-Manukau), D Muir (Waikato, capt).