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'The boys are up for the fight': All Blacks anticipating a 'fired up' Scottish side

By AAP
New Zealand's Akira Ioane (C) celebrates his try with teammates Aaron Smith (L) and Samuel Whitelock during the third rugby Test match between New Zealand and Ireland at Sky Stadium in Wellington on July 16, 2022. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

The All Blacks looked to be much improved as they outclassed Wales at the weekend – but they’re wary of a fired-up Scottish team on the next leg of their tour.

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New Zealand loose-forward Akira Ioane says they must be ready to match Scotland’s fire in their autumn international at Murrayfield, as the home team seek a first-ever win against the All Blacks.

New Zealand have had an up and down year that has led some to suggest they are there for the taking, but they blew away Wales in an eight-try 55-23 romp in Cardiff this past weekend to suggest they are getting back to their best in time for Sunday’s Test.

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Ioane believes Scotland will be a step up in quality from that encounter and says the All Blacks will do well not to underestimate opponents who haven’t beaten them in 31 previous attempts.

“They are a good team,” Ioane told reporters on Wednesday.

“They have got a lot of threats over the ball, and a lot of speed and strength out wide. We can’t take them lightly.

“They’ll come out guns blazing, and we have to match that and make sure the boys are up for the fight. Our breakdown will have to be on point. If not, they are going to steal a lot of ball.

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“They haven’t won ever, so no doubt they will be fired up. We have to be ready for a Scottish team that will go past the 80 minutes, so we have to dig deep and make sure we nail what we can.”

New Zealand have lost six Tests in the last 12 months, their worst run since the late 1990s, but they’re chasing a sixth win in a row after a recent upturn in results, if not quite performance.

They squeezed past Japan 38-31 in unconvincing fashion in their opening autumn international clash before putting Wales to the sword.

“We wanted to take a step up from Japan and I think we did that against Wales, but Scotland is going to be another step up again.

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“I know the boys are looking forward to it. We have been preparing well.”

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