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All Blacks will improve against Scots, says Jimmy Cowan

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All Blacks are relishing the autumn Test hype

All Blacks scrum-half Jimmy Cowan has warned Scotland that his side were not satisfied with their performance despite the 26-16 win over England.

The New Zealanders play at Murrayfield on Saturday in the second match of their European tour.

"There were still some disappointing aspects," said Cowan. "We did not play to the best of our ability.

"If you look at back at the Hong Kong Test too, we probably haven't nailed our game plan."

Australia won the final Bledisloe Cup match 26-24, although the All Blacks had already won the series, with the last kick of the ball to end a 10-game losing streak against their rivals.

It was New Zealand's first defeat of 2010, but they bounced back to defeat the English at Twickenham.

Scotland are actually quite expansive and don't play the typical United Kingdom style of rugby

New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock

"It would have been a long tour if we had got off on the wrong note," Cowan told BBC Scotland.

The 28-year-old, who plays for Highlanders and Southland in his homeland and admits to distant Scottish ancestry, does not think that three wins out of three for the touring southern hemisphere sides on Saturday was indicative of a large gap in quality.

"There was a kick in it between South Africa and Ireland," said Cowan.

"So you can't treat them lightly and you saw that with their game on Saturday. It could have gone either way.

"They were disallowed a try that could have changed the whole concept of the game.

"It is very tough to play over here and we've experienced it a number of times."

Cowan admits that the All Blacks have to adjust their game-plan to counteract the style of play in Europe.

"The way we play in the Tri-Nations is quite open rugby and the three teams like to use the ball," he said.

"I see down here certainly Scotland like to use the ball too, but the weather is a big factor too.

"Over here, the grounds are a lot of softer and it is harder to play the style we play.

New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock
Whitelock started against England and hopes to retain his place

"Over here, it is a lot more kicking orientated than we are used to in the Super 14 and Tri-Nations."

Scotland are lower in the world rankings than England, but Cowan still expects a difficult match in Edinburgh.

"My understanding is that they have a very good scrum and they like to use the ball," he said.

"They are using the ball well and they are playing in the wide channels, playing a lot off 10.

"So that will be a tough opponent on Saturday and our boys are well aware of that.

"It is a great spectacle to be playing at Murrayfield, with the bagpipes and Flower of Scotland."

Sam Whitelock is hoping to retain his place in the All Blacks starting line-up after playing at Twickenham.

"It was pretty cool to play against the English and get out there and stay out there," said the 22-year-old Crusaders and Canterbury lock.

"It was awesome to have a really tough opponent like that and actually play well and have a good one.

"It is going to be really hard to stay there, but it is a challenge that everyone wants to have."

Whitelock was looking forward to facing a new challenge at Murrayfield.

"They are actually quite expansive and don't play the typical United Kingdom style of rugby," he added.

"But, as England showed on the weekend, they tried some different things as well and it is difficult to play against."



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see also
Johnson frustrated by slow start
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England 16-26 New Zealand
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Competition delights Scots coach
04 Nov 10 |  Scottish
Strokosch out of Scotland Tests
26 Oct 10 |  Scottish
BBC to screen autumn rugby Tests
26 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union


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