THE world keeps spinning, so Scotland must now move quickly from Sunday’s loss to the All Blacks and focus on the next challenge on the horizon, which is an Argentinian side they suffered a loss to in series this summer and which gave England a bloody nose at Twickenham at the start of this autumn Test series.
However, head coach Gregor Townsend doesn’t want his players to completely forget what happened last weekend. He hopes they use the pain and frustration of letting the biggest lead a Scottish side have ever had against the All Blacks slip away from them in the final 20 minutes of the game.
“We are with the players – you share with the players how you feel, and we felt huge pride in the way they played,” he said. “What we’ve done both attacking and defending…to go 23-0 against a quality team shows what we’re capable of.
“We are capable of winning against New Zealand. I know the story better than anyone, and this was our chance. We won’t have it for three or four years and that’s what’s going to hurt.
“I’m sure there will be opportunities in the future but for this group of players and coaches, we probably won’t be there for that. So this disappointment has to fuel the team. What we have done has to motivate us to perform better next week.
“There was so much positivity around the atmosphere and the connection of our players and the crowd, with the things our wingers were doing in terms of chasing kicks, running deep and trying to score. That’s huge positives for next week’s motivation.
Six-day deadlines are really tough in international rugby, especially if it’s the final installment of a four-game streak of back-to-back weekends, as is the case for Scotland this weekend. -end. So, on top of the challenge of trying to put the team in the right place psychologically to face the Pumas on Saturday, Townsend will also have to deal with some pretty battered bodies this week, which could lead to tough decisions on leaving out players who feel like they’ve earned the right to keep their place on the team.
“You have to do less during the week and assess what the bodies look like after tonight,” the coach said, speaking immediately after Sunday’s game. “We are investing a lot of time, effort and money into recovery, so it will be sauna and pool access tonight, cryotherapy tomorrow, and the players will drive it themselves.
“If it was just fit from this game, a lot of players would have another chance next week, but the short time frame will influence the selection.”
Townsend was already planning a matchday squad selection which would not include flanker Hamish Watson and prop Rory Sutherland due to injuries sustained against New Zealand, while another complicating factor is that the partner of Finn Russell, Emma Canning, is heavily pregnant, meaning he could be called back to his Paris home at any time.
“Suz [Sutherland] has a knee injury which will be scanned tonight but I don’t think he will be available next week,” Townsend revealed. “It’s a similar injury to Adam Hastings last week, same situation.
“Hamish had a nasty head injury, so disappointed because it was such a brilliant tackle, but his head hit Jordie Barrett’s hip, and he’s definitely out next week.
“With Finn, I think the due date is the week after Argentina, but the midwives and doctors said it could be the week before so we’ll have to wait and see. The timing could be great. , at the beginning of the week and he is fine, he told us that he would be available next week.
Inspired by Edinburgh winger Emiliano Boffelli, the Pumas beat England 29-30 at Twickenham a fortnight ago in the opener of their autumn campaign but then lost 20-13 to the Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
Scotland have faced the South Americans three times this summer, recovering from a disappointing 26-18 defeat in Jujuy to level the series with a convincing 26-9 victory in Salta, and they have built a 15-point lead early in the second half to decide Test but succumbed to a harrowing 34-31 defeat that cost them the series.
After that summer capitulation, giving up a nine-point lead in the last 25 minutes against Australia a fortnight ago, and Sunday’s late loss to the All Blacks, Townsend and his team are determined to prevent a tendency to become a habit. ..
“We are as disappointed now as we were in Argentina and against Australia, so this has to be our next level of growth,” the coach concluded. “When we’re up front, like we’ve been in those three games, and we’ve played the best rugby, we have to knock them out and win.”