'Underrated' Scotland a real threat

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies aren’t buying into outdated perceptions of their second Test opponents, but attack coach Stephen Larkham is hoping heart rates won't be through the roof in the final stages of their Scotland clash.

After five matches decided by less than a converted try, the Wallabies are well aware of the danger any Scotland team poses, let alone one at its highest ranking in history.

Larkham admitted in some ways their opponents would have been worthy winners in Murrayfield last year, where Australia escaped with a 23-22 win.

That came just a year after the infamous 35-34 win in the World Cup quarter-final, a game the Wallabies won at the death as well.

“If I look at the game last year, they probably should’ve won that actually,” Larkham said on Friday.

“They said after the game that they probably played the better footy but our dogged defence in the end won us the game.

“In the last two games, there have been little moments in the game that have swung our way.”

Stephen Larkham says the Wallabies won't be underrating Scotland. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLarkham said any perception that Scotland were on the weaker end of the Northern Hemisphere scale was an outdated one, as the Scots sit in fifth, their highest ranking in history.

“That perception’s probably a couple of years old, if I look at the Scottish team,” he said.

“They’ve certainly scared us over the last couple of years and look at their Six Nations form - they’ve won three out of their five games there against Wales and Ireland in particular, beating Italy last week by a good margin.

“They’re a dangerous side, their defence is really good.

“They’re underrated as an international side, definitely.”

Larkham has been impressed by the Wallabies’ newest inside centre, Karmichael Hunt, who slotted into the position after just one and a half sessions training in that role heading into the first Test.

“Have I seen someone play that well on such a short preparation? Probably not, but that’s the nature of the guy,” he said.

“He’s played a number of big games in different codes over the last 10 years and the game plan was pretty simple but I think the position really suits him.

“It was an easy transition for him into that position.”

Hunt’s interchange with Bernard Foley at first receiver worked well for the Wallabies on the weekend and it’s a structure Larkham said they wanted to stick with.

“I think that’s the way we play, so our 10 and 12 have to get their hands on the ball as much as possible and control the team around the paddock,” he said.

“When Bernard’s not there, K’s been stepping up and been doing a fantastic job in training and you look at the start of the game on the weekend - he had a number of involvements that really sparked the attack there.

“I’ve been very impressed with him - I think his communication, his big game experience, his short-passing game and his combative attitude is spot on for that position.”

The Wallabies take on Scotland on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.