We've not given any thoughts to Scotland -- Carter
As the All Blacks announced their team to face Scotland at Murrayfield in the opening match of their end-of-year European tour, Dan Carter had an admission to make.
Asked how he and his team-mates might avoid approaching the contest with complacency, given their history of putting Scotland comprehensively to the sword (by a record 49-3 on their last visit, two years ago), New Zealand's fly-half replied: "This game, it's more about us. We haven't looked at the opposition -- Scotland -- all that much this week. We're really wanting to focus on our performance.
"When you look at it like that, it kind of takes the opposition out of the equation. No matter who we're playing, we want to play well as a team and focus more on us -- especially with it being the first game on tour. Also, our last performance wasn't our best of the year by any means."
Did that mean Carter (right) had not looked at the Scotland half-back pairing he would be facing tomorrow? "Em, I haven't actually," he confessed.
There will be those in Scotland who take it as another sleight from New Zealand. After all, the hairs are still bristling in Caledonian parts at the assertion by a columnist in 'The New Zealand Herald' that Scotland are "the cavemen" of world rugby.
The fact is that the All Blacks of 2012 have bigger things in mind than Scotland, who beat Australia, Fiji and Samoa in the summer but who were whitewashed in the Six Nations Championship this year and who have never beaten New Zealand. They are looking at the standards they have set since squeaking home in the World Cup final on home soil a year ago.
As Carter mentioned, those standards slipped in their last match, against the Wallabies in Brisbane three weeks ago. The world champions could only manage an 18-18 draw, stopping their winning run one short of equalling the world record of 17 matches.
In all probability, head coach Steve Hansen and the rest of the All Blacks back-room staff will be making sure that Carter and company are fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition before tomorrow. In the week-long build-up to the opening match of their tour, though, the New Zealanders have been concentrating on putting right what went wrong in Brisbane rather than what Scotland might throw at them. (© Independent News Service)
Scotland -- S Hogg; S Lamont, N De Luca, M Scott, T Visser; G Laidlaw, M Blair; R Grant, R Ford, G Cross; R Gray, J Hamilton; A Strokosch, R Rennie, K Brown (capt). Reps: S Lawson, A Jacobsen, K Traynor, A Kellock, D Denton, H Pyrgos, R Jackson, M Evans.
New Zealand -- I Dagg; C Jane, B Smith, T Ellison, J Savea; D Carter, P Weepu; W Crockett, A Hore, O Franks; L Romano, S Whitelock; A Thomson, R McCaw (capt), A Thomson, V Vito. Reps: D Coles, T Woodcock, B Franks, S Cane, T Kerr-Barlow, B Barrett, Ma'a Nonu.
Scotland v New Zealand
Live, tomorrow, BBC1, 2.30