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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
McGeechan wants 1991 repeat
Ian McGeechan shows his horror during a poor Scotland performance
Scotland have presented Ian McGeechan with some poor displays
Scotland coach Ian McGeechan arrived in Australia on Tuesday insisting that "anything is possible" despite increasing pessimism about his team's hopes for the Rugby World Cup.

McGeechan heads into his last World Cup hoping that Scotland can spring a surprise and match their 1991 achievement of a place in the semi-finals.

Scotland's standing in world rugby has fallen since then and they go into the 2003 tournament on the back of disappointing warm-up defeats by Ireland and Wales.

But McGeechan points out that they had also gone into that 1991 event on the back of two reverses.

"This is the fourth World Cup I have been involved in, in one form or another, and to me, you get the momentum in the pool stages - and that starts in the first game," said McGeechan, who retires after the tournament.

If we get off to a good start, you never know what becomes possible
Scotland coach Ian McGeechan
"You talk about us doing well in 1991 when we reached the semi-finals. It started in the first game. We had lost two games prior to that.

"Sides in the World Cup that do well get that momentum from pretty early on.

"If we get off to a good start, you never know what becomes possible.

"We are very well aware the first two weeks of the tournament are very important to us."

Scotland open their campaign against Japan on 12 October in sweltering Townsville and then face the USA before what are likely to be crunch qualification games against old Six Nations rivals France and the unpredictable Fijians.

The preparations had been going swimmingly with two impressive showings against the Springboks in South Africa and a comfortable win over Italy.

It went wrong after that, but McGeechan is confident the players will take an important lesson from the 23-9 defeat to Wales into the games against Japan and the USA.

"The Welsh game was the first game for a lot of players and, to be honest, they took it too lightly," he said.

"It shows that, no matter how well you think you can play, if mentally you are not right, the performance doesn't come.

"You can't afford to take teams like Japan lightly.

"We are now very aware coming here that the rugby we have been preparing for has to come out."

Assistant Jim Telfer and captain Bryan Redpath will also depart the Scotland scene at the end of the tournament.

Redpath, still chirpy despite the 32-hour journey to Sydney, echoed the thoughts of his coach as they arrived at their hotel at Caloundra on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

"We haven't performed as well as we would like to in the three warm-up matches and a lot will depend on how the players respond now to this environment, in a World Cup," he said. "This is the buzz."

However, the Scots will have to wait to feel the benefit of fitness advisor Marty Hulme's "power bags" - filled with sand for use in weight training - were confiscated by Australian authorities for analysis.

Veteran centre Gregor Townsend also had a laptop stolen.

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