Kelly Brown, the Scotland captain, yesterday urged his side to raise themselves for the visit of South Africa next week, a Test the national team will have to win if they are to stand a chance of being among the top eight seeds for the World Cup.
Following a 51-22 defeat by New Zealand yesterday, Scotland have to win their two remaining EMC Autumn Tests to make the cut.
Having led his side on to the field for the first time as captain, Kelly – who was also making his 50th appearance for his country – was aware of what was at stake against the All Blacks. However, he was unable to prevent the side ranked No.1 in the world scoring six tries on their way to a win at Murrayfield.
That now means that Scotland must beat South Africa next week and Brown endorsed the strength of character in the squad. "It's up to us. We can't afford to just lie down now," he said. "We need to fight back. There's quite a few stubborn guys in that side. It's up to us now to fight back and we've got six days in which to do it."
As part of the team that recovered from a similar loss by New Zealand when the Scots conceded 49 points two years ago before going on to South Africa a week later, Brown felt there was some encouragement to be taken from this display.
"We scored three tries against them and that's a good thing, but we need to tighten up in terms of our defence and we know that next week they will run incredibly hard, so it's up to us to front up to it," he said. "At times we ran hard and we really looked physical. It's great to score, but on the other side of things we spoke all week that we needed to be a difficult side to beat and out there we weren't."
Andy Robinson, Scotland's head coach, also expressed confidence that they could turn it around. "We've got to show the spirit of 2010, when we were in this position and we corrected it the following week," he said. "We've got six days, but I've got a lot of confidence in the players that we'll be able to turn this around."
The defeat was made more painful by the dislocated shoulder suffered by Ross Rennie, who will now miss the final two Tests. Al Strokosch also sustained a kick to his head from Adam Thompson, which resulted in the All Black being sin-binned, but was not seriously hurt.
Afterwards Strokosch played down the incident. "In his defence I don't think he intended to kick me in the head. I was pretty close to the ball," he said.