Scotland v New Zealand: John Barclay insists Scots cannot be starstruck by world champions


John Barclay captained Scotland to victory over Samoa in their opening autumn international
Autumn Test: Scotland v New Zealand
Date: Saturday, 18 November (17:15 GMT) Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Coverage: Live on BBC Two from 17:00, BBC Sport website & app, Radio Scotland (MW) & Radio 5 live sports extra

Scotland captain John Barclay says replicating the intent and accuracy the team produced in beating Australia in June will be key to carving out a first victory over New Zealand.

Barclay says the Sydney triumph “sticks out” among Scotland’s wins this year.

And though beating the All Blacks would top that, Barclay insists the Scots cannot be starstruck by the visitors.

“They don’t lose many games but they have lost a few in the past 12 months,” the back row, 31, said.

In fact the back-to-back world champions lost only last month to Australia, in addition to a defeat and a draw against the British and Irish Lions this summer.

“We have to play well, we know that, and we can’t just sit back and watch them play,” Barclay added before Saturday’s encounter in Edinburgh.

Highlights: Scotland beat Samoa in 11-try epic

“We have to go and play with intent, be aggressive and try to impose ourselves on them as well.”

Barclay, referring back to the summer win in Australia, added: “That was a pretty good performance (down under).

“It’s funny, everyone was saying while we were over there, ‘oh, Australia aren’t very good anymore’, and they beat the All Blacks a few months later so they’re obviously not that bad.

Barclay led Scotland to victory in Sydney earlier this year

“We played well over there. We had a pretty good tour and that game sticks out. We played with good intent that day, with a lot of accuracy. That was the main thing and those will be the key things this weekend.”

But Barclay plays down any particular resonance playing against – or even captaining his country against – the All Blacks may have.

“I think it’s pretty inspiring to play at Murrayfield,” he added. “I think something’s probably wrong if you need to take inspiration from the opposition.

“I think if we sit back and are in awe or are inspired by a team then something’s probably quite drastically wrong with our mindset. We need to focus on ourselves as much as we can and try to impose ourselves.”

Barclay made his Scotland debut against New Zealand in the 2007 World Cup, a day before his 21st birthday

Barclay says the squad have examined elements of those recent All Blacks defeats as well as games they have won, but within which the opposition have caused problems, like the weekend win over France.

And last year’s defeat by Ireland in Chicago – their first to the Irish – also offers encouragement, according to winger Lee Jones.

“The coaches have had a long time to prepare for these three matches and have looked at New Zealand over a long period – the matches they played in the Rugby Championship, the match against Ireland,” Jones, 29, said.

Jones started on the left wing in Scotland’s win over Samoa last Saturday

“There are themes they have pulled out and presented to us that they feel will mean opportunities.

“It will be very tough but if we can look at those opportunities and make the most of them then that is where we will be successful.”

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