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Competition for Scots' places delights Andy Robinson


Robinson happy at squad competition

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson is delighted to have four top-class second-row forwards available ahead of the visit by New Zealand.

Al Kellock will miss the first of their three autumn Tests through injury.

"To then have four second rows that are vying for the two spots is great - and second rows that are playing really well," said Robinson.

Richie Gray, Scott McLeod, Nathan Hines and Gloucester's Jim Hamilton are the men chasing starting places.

"Richie Gray has been in top form for Glasgow," said Robinson. "Scott McLeod has been playing well for Edinburgh and getting the offloading game.

"Jim has had two very good performances against Bath and Leicester, two tough sides to play against.

If we attack well and defend superbly well, we'll go out there and win the game

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson

"And Nathan Hines, the old warrior, has been going really well for Leinster in some high-pressure games."

Robinson not only has to decide who will play second row in Kellock's absence but who will take over his role as captain, but the coach was playing his cards close to his chest.

"The leadership group has worked very well," he said. "We have three forwards and three backs within that group.

"Everybody understands that the captain is there by name, but we have leaders on the pitch throughout the side that need to take on the responsibility."

Robinson retains belief that his side can overcome the world's best team, who have never lost to Scotland in 27 meetings.

"The team understands that it can perform against the All Blacks and they can win any game and that they are in control of that," he said.

"If we attack well and defend superbly well, we'll go out there and win the game.

"But, if we drop off and sit off and lose concentration at any moment, that will enable New Zealand to score.

"It is a tough challenge for us. In the Wales game last year, we performed for 70 minutes and dropped off for 10 and lost the game - and deservedly so."

The All Blacks will have played twice in the previous fortnight, having suffered their first defeat of 2010 when they lost 26-24 to Australia in Hong Kong last weekend and then facing England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Scotland have not played since their series victory in Argentina in June and Robinson took the lay-off into account as he gathered his squad together for a three-day training camp in St Andrews this week.

"It's something that mustn't be neglected," Robinson said. "It's something we have to look at in our planning.

"We can't start slowly. We must start well and that's what we have been working towards.

"We have physically been able to put that into training, at times we have been training quite hard.

"We worked full-on for a certain amount of time on Tuesday in order to replicate that game experience."

France-based duo Hugo Southwell and Rory Lamont both arrived at the Scotland camp restricted by dead-legs sustained in club action.

However, they are said to be improving on a daily basis, while forwards Hines, Moray Low, Dougie Hall and Alasdair Dickinson are also making good progress.

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see also
Strokosch out of Scotland Tests
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish
BBC to screen autumn rugby Tests
26 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 33-26 Harlequins
23 Oct 10 |  English
Uncapped quartet get Scots chance
20 Oct 10 |  Scottish
Robinson riled by Premier block
31 May 10 |  Scottish

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