False start not an option for Scots

SCOTLAND are protecting a proud tradition of having never failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup, but the physically demanding nature of their schedule is likely to threaten that record.

For a coach as meticulous as Andy Robinson it would seem he has taken a gamble by arriving in New Zealand on the back of just two warm-up matches against Ireland and Italy.

Moreover, the Scottish squad were the last team to arrive and have been afforded less than 72 hours to prepare for two must-win games against opponents, Romania and Georgia, who compensate for their lack of technical skills with aggressive intensity.

The same could be said of Scotland, though Robinson has attempted to add a more aesthetic quality to their game, with the athletic centre Joe Ansbro providing some much needed thrust and invention to the midfield.

That said, if Scotland are to cause a stir against the All Blacks, their potential quarter-final opponents, they will surely revert to a territorial based approach which helped them shock South Africa in November.

Richie Gray: Despite his relative inexperience the easily recognisable and imposing lock is the key man in Scotland’s lineout and is an underrated weapon in the loose.