Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, November 13
Cowan: All Blacks a happy bunch
ESPNscrum Staff
November 8, 2010

Jimmy Cowan believes that the All Blacks overcame an important psychological barrier with victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday, the first hurdle in a possible Grand Slam tour.

The Southland scrum-half watched from the stands as his team-mates pulled out a hard-fought 26-16 win against a rugged English side having lost out on a place in the matchday 22 to halfback rivals Alby Mathewson and Andy Ellis.

Cowan was last in the saddle two weeks ago with a try-scoring performance in the Bledisloe Cup defeat to Australia in Hong Kong and while he was disappointed to miss out he reserved praise for Mathewson's display on the occasion of his full debut.

"It's great to get a win, it would have made for a long tour if we'd have got off on the wrong note," he said. "It's always a tough place to play, Twickenham, especially with the travel. We had a 12-hour flight leading up to it and that's never easy, the boys are a happy bunch and that's pleasing.

"It's never nice not playing, I'd like to play every Test but that's not possible with three halfbacks in the squad. It's the way it is and you've got to accept it and be a good team man.

"I thought he [Mathewson] went well, they are never an easy team to play. I've never played well against England, they tend to like a bit of niggle at the breakdown and to catch you off guard. The majority of the game he played well, his core skills were good, and I imagine he'll be reasonably happy."

Much of the pre-match hype focused on the debut of rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams, who went on to set up the All Blacks' first try with a sparkling offload to Jerome Kaino. Cowan roomed with the Canterbury centre prior to their departure for Hong Kong and commended him for his seamless transition into the squad environment.

"He's a great guy," Cowan said. "I was fortunate to room with him in Auckland prior to leaving. I hadn't known the guy but had the chance to room with him for four nights and he's a beaut, mate. He's like one of the boys, he's fitted in really well and may get another chance in the coming weeks. He's a good sight, a great athlete."

Cowan is also hoping for a chance this weekend as the All Blacks take on a fast-improving Scotland at Murrayfield. Andy Robinson's side saw off the Pumas in a two-Test series in June and will be eyeing another successful autumn after beating Australia in a confrontational classic 12 months ago.

"I caught a glimpse of them last night on the video, there's a 20 minute movie we've got on them," Cowan said. "I haven't seen a lot of rugby because I've been playing but as the week goes on I'll know a lot more about them. I'll start doing my homework.

"From what I've seen last night they play a great style, playing with the ball. It's good to see and a game that we pride ourselves on too so hopefully both teams use the ball on Saturday, the weather allows us to do that and we'll see a good spectacle."

Jimmy Cowan was speaking to on behalf of adidas - official partner of the All Blacks

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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