Laney in line for Scotland call

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The Independent Online

The All Blacks coach John Mitchell yesterday named the same side that beat Ireland for Saturday's match with Scotland at Murrayfield. The Scotland coach Ian McGeechan will announce his team later today.

Scotland have never beaten New Zealand and will need to put on a markedly improved performance from the one they produced in the defeat by Argentina last weekend.

With injuries to Chris Paterson and Glenn Metcalfe, the New Zealand-born Brendan Laney is among those in contention for a place in McGeechan's squad. And the All Blacks' hooker Tom Willis believes Laney could make an immediate impact if selected.

Willis, who played with Laney at the Super 12 side the Otago Highlanders, was in the New Zealand midweek team which beat Scotland A 35-13 at McDiarmid Park in Perth on Tuesday.

Laney, now with Edinburgh, made his debut for Scotland A in that match but was starved of possession and had little chance to show his much-vaunted attacking prowess.

Willis, 22, said: "Brendan can turn nothing into an opportunity. I have seen what he is capable of doing but fortunately for us his opportunities were limited on Tuesday.

"He is an example of a guy who just loves playing rugby and playing against the All Blacks was probably a great experience for him. I would imagine he was fired up to do well in the match but he didn't really have a chance to show what he can do.

"I am sure he has always wanted to play for the All Blacks. That never happened and this is the next best thing.

"I was wary of him going into the game because I know exactly what he can do. He can cut through any defence or offload with a clever pass and is a very dangerous player."

The Scotland A joint coach Graham Hogg believes the future is bright for the development set-up and the senior team, despite Tuesday's defeat. Hogg feels the emergence of a new crop of young stars in the A team's autumn internationals augurs well for Scottish rugby.

He said: "We are not too disappointed because we are looking at it from a three-game perspective.

"We defeated Tonga in what was really an A game, then had a terrific win against Argentina and we were competitive in defeat to the All Blacks.

"There's a body of players coming through and hopefully many of them will go on to prove themselves in the full team. We had nine players new to A team rugby last week and yet we still won, which is a great sign. So the future is looking bright for the A team and the senior side."

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