Scotland are considering attending next Sunday’s football friendly at Murrayfield in the hope of gaining an edge from European champions Liverpool that they can somehow work into their rugby.
Jurgen Klopp’s Champions Cup winners are due in Edinburgh to face Italian side Napoli and Gregor Townsend and co have it in the back of their minds to head along.
“I have not heard the update, but there was chat about going to the game on Sunday,” said assistant coach Mike Blair to Scottish media this week.
“Learning from other teams is really important. There is an example from Liverpool when they took a quick corner, that kind of stuff can translate into what we do,” he explained, referencing the set-piece quickly taken by 20-year-old Alexander-Arnold against Barcelona in the semi-finals in May.
That led to a crucial Divock Origi goal in the 4-0 win at Anfield and Blair feels it’s the type of quick thinking the Scottish rugby players can learn from.
— THE OFFSIDE LINE (@theoffsideline) July 24, 2019
“From a defensive point of view we are about always being switched on and never turning your back while, from an attacking point of view, you are trying to create opportunities where you are against unstructured defences.
“It is about getting a balance in a squad, a balance of opinions and experiences. You need your guys who have been there for the last seven or eight years, but you also need your guys who have been there for a year. The young guys bring the fearlessness, the energy and the exuberance to the group, you need to harness that.”
Scotland are in a World Cup pool featuring big games against Ireland, Japan and Samoa and while Blair believes that Townsend’s side is capable of beating anyone on their day, he stressed that their inconsistent in-game periods have to be limited if they are to progress.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) July 24, 2019
“We feel that if we play to the best of our ability we can beat any team in the world, but there is a big jump between playing to the best of your ability and not,” said the assistant coach. “There are things we need to get right, but if we are able to put exactly what we want on the pitch, we have a chance of being able to beat anyone in the world. Consistency is absolutely crucial for us.
“Throughout the Six Nations earlier this year we had some moments of brilliance. There were long periods when we were all over the opposition – 30, 40 or 60 minutes in the Italian game for example [Scotland eventually won 33-20].
Greig Laidlaw isn't taking his demotion with Scotland lightly https://t.co/PeOH6F0AZ1
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 22, 2019
“But we’ve also had periods in games where we’ve almost fallen off a cliff. That last 20 against Italy and the first half against England, for example. That consistency of performance is something that we as coaches have been focusing on and trying to get that message across to the players.
“Everyone is talking about the Ireland game at the World Cup and, yes, first up, all eyes will be on that one, but we’re also aware that if we don’t play to the best of our ability in the other games then they are potential banana skins.”
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