• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Hogg prepares for toughest challenge of his career

The baby of the Scottish team has dealt manfully with every challenge thrown at him on or off the rugby field but the arrival in town of the greatest team was was always going to throw up some new ones.

Interesting, then, that when Stuart Hogg spoke this week it sounded as if there might have been a reversion to some of the stranger days of the Jim Telfer/Ian McGeechan era when a decree went out that no-one should refer to opposition from New Zealand by their globally recognised brand name. "My first cap was a career highlight but to play against the All . . . eh, against New Zealand on Sunday . . . it's exciting times ahead; we can't wait," he said in answer to the opening question.

Naturally we had to know whether that deviation was down to any sort of instruction. "I'm just calling them New Zealand. That's what I would call them," he said, grinning impishly.

The subject was inevitably pursued as he was asked whether there is an on-going issue about dealing with what is probably best described as the All Black aura.

A little laugh while pausing for thought, then a pre-programmed- sounding response: "Emm . . . it's going to be really tough this weekend. They have great individual players so it's a massive challenge for myself especially to come up against the likes of Israel Dagg and their back three. I just hope I can go out and do my best."

So, all a bit of harmless fun between press and player or a serious issue to be addressed?

When asked similar questions in the context of many Scotland players having admitted after past All Black meetings to being all but beaten before they started because of who they were facing, Andy Robinson, Scotland's head coach, did not duck the question. He pointed out that they have recruited the help of Floyd Woodrow, a sports psychologist, in attempting to get their mental preparation right.

Is this, we wondered, the same Floyd Woodrow who was involved during the Six Nations Championship? It is, said Robinson, but he was only involved for the final match of that campaign. Ah yes, that epic encounter with Italy in Rome, a grim 13-6 defeat which completed the "whitewash".

In fairness, it was a tough call for anyone to turn around, in a week, the psyche of a group of men who were poised to complete and duly did so in abject fashion, Scotland's worst international season.

Robinson noted that Woodrow, a former SAS man, has since worked with Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors which might seem a strange thing to volunteer.

Edinburgh, whose Heineken Cup run last season was based on a never-say-die attitude, have looked at times as if they have given up during a run of seven successive defeats while Glasgow, though better, interrupted their record winning run in the league by contributing to Scotland's worst start to a Heineken Cup for eight years.

It may, then, take more than a few mind games to turn a team that contains seven Edinburgh players and three from Glasgow, into one capable of beating the world's best.

Contextual targeting label: 
Careers and Jobs

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

124530