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Scotland expect Wallabies to attack scrum

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Joe Barton

Scotland have flipped the script on the annual northern hemisphere examination of the Wallabies' scrum, admitting they expect Michael Cheika to target the Bravehearts' inexperienced set piece this weekend.

The admission from Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor that, if he was a rival coach, he would target the scrum would've pricked the ears of the Wallabies' engine room - long seen as a laughing stock in the northern hemisphere.

But with Alasdair Dickinson (hamstring) injured, Vern Cotter has turned to the inexperienced pairing of Zander Fagerson - who earns his first start - and debutant Allan Dell, with Gordon Reid overcoming a back injury to take his place on the bench.

Suddenly Australia's settled pairing of Sekope Kepu, captain Stephen Moore and Scott Sio may hold the upper hand.

"(If I were an opposition coach) I suppose I would look at that and say let's target it," Taylor said of the Scottish scrum.

"But a couple of those young guys coming in are quite good players.

"We worked pretty hard in that area and said to the team that that's a really important part of the game that you need to get right."

The Wallabies were welcomed to the UK a fortnight ago by a spiky column from former Scotland player and coach Sir Ian McGeechan, in which he identified the scrum as a weakness and said Australia had regressed from their impressive World Cup and were no chance of winning the grand slam.

McGeechan's comments didn't go unnoticed in the Australian camp, with Cheika using them to inspire his tight five ahead of their tour-opening win against Wales.

Cheika again raised them ahead of the clash with Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday (Sunday 0130 AEDT).

"Hearing from what McGeechan said earlier on in the tour, they'll think we're a bit soft up front so they'll probably have a go at us there too," Cheika said.

"I'm sure (McGeechan's) still got a bit of input in there, so I'm sure they'll try and attack us in that area."

But Cheika, who also recalled rookie prop Tom Robertson to the bench ahead of veteran James Slipper, said while he expects his scrum to be targeted he was encouraging his players to fight back from the opening whistle.

"It's not just about sitting there and waiting to get targeted - you've got to stand up there and get on the front foot as soon as you can," Cheika said on Thursday.

"We'll be doing our best in that area."

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