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Wednesday November 7, 2012

Gray in Scotland side to face All Blacks

EDINBURGH: Scotland lock Richie Gray was included yesterday in the starting XV to face world champions New Zealand at Murrayfield on Sunday, subject to passing a fitness test on an ankle injury.

Scotland were the most successful of all the ‘Home Nations’ during their respective southern hemisphere Tours earlier this year, upsetting the odds to beat Australia before defeating Fiji and then scraping a win over Samoa.

Head coach Andy Robinson has made five changes to the starting XV for the 17-16 victory over Samoa in Apia in June.

Jim Hamilton, who missed the Tour because of disciplinary problems incurred while playing for Gloucester, returned to partner star lock Gray in the second row while fit-again back-row forward Kelly Brown was recalled for his 50th cap and first as Scotland captain.

In the backs, centre Nick de Luca and scrum-half Mike Blair replace the injured pair of Joe Ansbro and Chris Cusiter respectively while Geoff Cross came in for tighthead prop Euan Murray, unavailable because his religious beliefs prevent him playing on a Sunday.

A sell-out crowd of 67,144 is expected to see Scotland make their latest bid for a first victory over New Zealand and Robinson urged his side to follow the example of Australia, who ended the All Blacks’ run of 16 straight Test wins with an 18-18 draw in Brisbane last month.

“For our first game of the season we will really need to start well and keep the game simple,” said Robinson.

“New Zealand are the world champions and they perform the basic skills, well, under the highest pressure,” former England flanker and coach Robinson added.

“We need to step up from the (European) summer tour and be ready to go toe to toe in a physical contest, just as Australia did most recently against New Zealand in Brisbane.”

New Zealand are due to name their team on Friday.

Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks in 28 Tests spread across 107 years, with their best results coming in the contrasting Murrayfield draws of 1964 (0-0) and 1983 (25-25). — AFP              

       

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