Scotland are underdogs against Samoa, insists defence coach Matt Taylor
Last Updated: 08/06/13 1:14pm
Paul Williams and Kelly Brown pose for photographs during the Castle Lager Incoming Series media session
Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor claims his side start as underdogs when they tackle Samoa in Durban on Saturday.
Samoa are three places higher than the Scots in the IRB rankings and have claimed the scalps of Australia and Wales in recent years.
"It is not that long ago that they beat the Six Nations champions, Wales, and they probably should have beaten France, so they are a very good team," said Taylor.
"We've had a good look at them and a lot of their patterns and moves are similar to those they use against the other Six Nations teams.
"I think we know what is coming, it is whether we are up to the challenge.
"Look at the IRB rankings where they are seventh and we are 10th, so in that respect we are the underdogs.
"They are a very, very good team and a proud rugby nation so we are going to have to be at our best to beat them."
Scotland have never lost to Samoa but have ridden their luck in recent games, needing a last-second kick to win in 2010 and a try and conversion two minutes from time for victory in Samoa last year.
"It is going to be very difficult, they are very good ball carriers, good rugby players," said Taylor.
"I have been lucky enough to see them up close and they are exceptional players and good ball carriers, so it is going to be difficult for us."
While full of respect for their opponents, Taylor remains confident that his players have the ability and the big-match mentality to win the game.
And that confidence stems from even the most inexperienced members of the team, although Taylor accepts that there will be pressure on Tom Heathcote, the fly-half expected to call the shots on his first Test start.
"He will have a good challenge, I am sure they will try to target him - most teams do attack down the fly-half channel," said Taylor.
"He knows that and has worked hard with the defence coach at Bath on his technique - Mike Ford who was the England defence coach for many years - and he is really confident in his [Heathcote's] ability as a defender.
"He has worked hard in the Scotland environment as well. It will be a challenge, but one he is looking forward do, he is a good defender."