There is something different about Scotland as they prepare to pursue what has become their Holy Grail. For 110 years they have been striving to get the better of New Zealand. They have yet to succeed. This time, when Richie McCaw and Co arrive at Murrayfield on Saturday, there will be a New Zealander in charge of the underdogs.
Vern Cotter never donned the national jersey but he has brought the All Black mentality to bear in his coaching: looking after a forwards pack at the Crusaders that included a young McCaw and guiding Clermont Auvergne to prominence in Europe before joining Scotland.
His influence was clear to see on Saturday as Scotland ran in five tries in his first home game, beating Argentina 41-31. Admittedly, the Scots leaked three tries in a messy final 10 minutes but for the most part they played with poise, precision and penetration in earning their first home win against the Pumas since November 1990.
The Gray brothers, Richie and Jonny, playing alongside each other for the first time, plundered the first two tries and contributed prominently in the loose. The other three tries came courtesy of the fleet-footed back three, Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, but it was the dynamism of scrum-half and captain Greig Laidlaw that provided the spark.
Asked whether it might be an advantage to his side next weekend to have a New Zealander in charge, the taciturn Cotter replied: “No, not really. We’re looking at just another opposition, and a very, very good one.
“We’re taking a very positive approach. We’ll prepare as best we can and certainly the game and how it unravels will be important to us. We’ve got to embrace the opportunity to play against the best team in the world and really see where we sit.”
New Zealand have averaged 50 points on their last two visits to Murrayfield.
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