Andy Robinson demands fresh faces build All Blacks pressure


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The Independent Online

Given Scotland's record against New Zealand, Andy Robinson might consider taking the 34-man squad he named yesterday to Medinah instead of St Andrews next week.

They would appear to be in need of a Ryder Cup-style miracle as they prepare for the challenge of facing the planet's best team at Murrayfield on 11 November.

Famously, the Scots have never managed to beat the All Blacks. They go the opening game of their autumn series with a hat-trick of wins behind them, against Australia, Fiji and Samoa, but they all came in June. Four months on, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors have failed to pull off a victory between them in the opening two rounds of the Heineken Cup and, such are the resources at Robinson's disposal, the head coach has been forced to call up seven uncapped men – and hope that some of his more recently injured players will be fit to face the world champions.

Lock Richie Gray, stand-off Greig Laidlaw, centre Max Evans and wings Sean Lamont and Tim Visser have all been named in the squad despite being out of commission last weekend. The list of long-term injured includes centres Joe Ansbro and Graeme Morrison, scrum-half Chris Cusiter, full-back Rory Lamont and wing Nikki Walker. Hence the call to the uncapped brigade: the Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist, Edinburgh back-rower Stuart McInally and Glasgow backs Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour and Henry Pyrgos.

Asked how he might instil belief in his players to take on Richie McCaw and Co a fortnight on Sunday, Robinson said: "Teams that have put New Zealand under pressure are teams that have only allowed them to score one try. That's the mentality you have to go out with.

"The other aspect is that you've got to score early against them, so you get the scoreboard in your favour. Ireland put them under pressure and only conceded one try."

That was in Christchurch in June. New Zealand needed a last-minute drop-goal by Dan Carter to sneak a 22-19 win against the Irish – who, like the Scots, have never beaten the Kiwis.

Rob Kearney, Ireland's full-back that day, will miss the autumn Tests with a back problem. The European Player of the Year faces surgery today and is expected to be out for up to 10 weeks.