'We have not given any thought to Scotland,' says Dan Carter

All Blacks fly-half claims world champions are more concerned with their own game

The setting was the basement suite of an Edinburgh hotel but it might have been a confessional booth somewhere in the Scottish capital. As the All Blacks announced their team to face Scotland at Murrayfield tomorrow in the opening match of their end-of-year European tour, Dan Carter had a confession to make.

Asked how he and his team-mates might avoid approaching the contest with complacency, given their history of putting Scotland comprehensively to the sword (by a record 49-3 on their last visit two years ago), New Zealand's fly-half pivot and points machine replied: "This game, it's more about us. We haven't looked at the opposition – Scotland – all that much this week. We're really wanting to focus on our performance.

"When you look at it like that, it kind of takes the opposition out of the equation. No matter who we're playing, we want to play well as a team and focus more on us – especially with it being the first game on tour. Also, our last performance wasn't our best of the year by any means."

Did that mean Carter had not looked at the Scotland half-back pairing he would be facing tomorrow? "Erm... I haven't actually," he confessed. "I haven't even seen the Scotland starting line-up. It's something I might have a little bit of a look at but I've got certain things that I want to get out of this game and it's more on a personal and team basis than looking too much at the opponents."

There will be those in Scotland who take it as another slight from the Land of the Long White Cloud. The hairs are still bristling in Caledonian parts at the assertion by a columnist in the New Zealand Herald that Scotland are "the cavemen" of world rugby. And Victor Vito, sitting alongside Carter yesterday, made have a similar admission. Asked what he knew about his opposite number (Scotland captain Kelly Brown) the flanker turned No 8 replied: "Not too much, to be honest."

The fact is that the All Blacks of 2012 have bigger things in mind than Scotland, who beat Australia, Fiji and Samoa in the summer but who were whitewashed in the Six Nations this year and who have never beaten New Zealand. They are looking at the standards they have set since squeaking home in the World Cup final on home soil a year ago.

As Carter mentioned, those standards slipped in their last match, against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane three weeks ago. The world champions could only manage an 18-18 draw, stopping their winning run one short of equalling the world record of 17 matches.

In all probability, head coach Steve Hansen and the rest of the All Black backroom staff will be making sure that Carter, Vito and Co are fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition before the 2.30pm start tomorrow. In the week-long build-up to the opening match of their tour, though, the New Zealanders have been concentrating on putting right what went wrong in Brisbane rather than what Scotland might throw at them.

"Yeah, obviously we were pretty disappointed in our last performance," Carter said. "The tough thing is we've had to wait a few weeks for our next opportunity to play better but the team's excited. We realise this is a new challenge, playing over here in the UK."

As it happened, yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the All Blacks' last defeat in a tour match in Europe. True, they did lose to France in Cardiff in 2007 but that was a World Cup quarter-final. Their last defeat in an end-of-year tour in the northern hemi- sphere was a 31-28 loss to England at Twickenham on 9 November 2002, back in the days of Jonah Lomu and Andrew Mehrtens.

Each year, it seems, they have come to these shores and shown a widening gulf between their cutting-edge play and the relative Neanderthal nations in the north of the planet. Their winning run against global opposition may have come to a halt, but maintaining that dominance over the leading lights of the European game will be the obvious driving force for Hansen and his team as they tackle Scotland, Italy, Wales and France over the next four weekends.

"At the beginning of the year we set out the goal of challenging ourselves to play better than we had before," said Hansen, who stepped up to succeed Graham Henry in the wake of World Cup success. "Everyone was telling us we'd have a hangover after the World Cup and that made us probably more determined. The first meeting I had with [captain] Richie McCaw we discussed that, and ways of making sure it didn't happen. We've introduced nine new players this year, which is just about a third of the squad, and that brings excitement and enthusiasm."

As expected, Hansen and his fellow selectors have blended several recent recruits – Wyatt Crockett at loosehead prop, Luke Romano in the second row, Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith in the centres and Julian Savea on the left wing – into a starting XV featuring a solid spine of Andrew Hore at hooker, McCaw in the back row, Carter at fly-half and Israel Dagg at full-back. Hooker Dane Coles and scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow stand to make debuts off the bench.

Oh, and just so Dan knows: Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw will be the half-back pairing in a Scotland side looking to overcome the odds and turn back the All-Black tide of history.

Back to black: New Zealand's run

* New Zealand's 18-18 draw against Australia last month prevented them from matching the record run of 17 Test victories, achieved by the All Blacks between 1965-69 and equalled by the Springboks of 1997-98.

They are still unbeaten in 17 Tests, stretching back to August 2011 and can equal the All Blacks of 1997 by going a calendar year unbeaten. They are also unbeaten in November Tests in Europe since 2002.

Murrayfield teams

Scotland

15 S Hogg, 14 S Lamont, 13 N De Luca, 12 M Scott, 11 T Visser, 10 G Laidlaw, 9 M Blair; 1 R Grant, 2 R Ford, 3 G Cross, 4 R Gray, 5 J Hamilton, 6 A Strokosch, 7 R Rennie, 8 K Brown (capt).

New zealand

15 I V Dagg, 14 C Jane, 13 B Smith, 12 T Ellison, 11 J Savea, 10 D Carter, 9 P Weepu; 1 W Crockett, 2 A Hore, 3 O Franks, 4 L Romano, 5 S Whitelock, 6 A Thomson, 7 R McCaw (capt), 8 V Vito.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick