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I WON'T LET THE SONNY SHINE; Scot Alex desperate to put blockers on All Blacks superstar Williams and rewrite rugby history books.

Byline: GARY HEATLY sport@dailyrecord.co.uk

ALEX DUNBAR has faced many challenges in his rugby career.

But the Scotland centre admits going up against All Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams today at BT Murrayfield will top the lot.

The Glasgow Warrior, who has battled back from yet another injury to be involved in the Autumn Tests, has admired Williams for many years.

And he knows the battle of the No.12s will be key if Gregor Townsend's men are to have any chance of causing a massive upset against the world's best side.

Since 1905 hundreds of Scottish rugby players have tried and failed to defeat the mighty All Blacks, drawing twice and losing 28 times. But Dunbar cannot wait to get out there.

Let's look at the tale of the tape - Dunbar is 27, Williams 32, they have 27 and 44 caps for their countries respectively with seven and 11 tries to their names.

And while there is no doubt that Dunbar is a quality performer for Scotland, Williams is a two-time World Cup winner who has turned his hand to competitive boxing and can do things on a rugby field that most can only dream of.

He has 745,000 Twitter followers and transcends his sport with a sold-out BT Murrayfield crowd - even the 60,000 plus home fans - excited to see him in the flesh.

Indeed it is no coincidence that after he came off the bench in the last match between the two sides in 2014 at the same venue New Zealand got themselves out of a spot of bother and went on to win the game 24-16.

In short, he can create things and spark moments of magic. So how does Dunbar aim to stop him? He said: "There is no doubt that if you sit back and give him time on the ball then he can do a lot of things.

"He has a good off-loading game and he's a very good carrier. We will need to switch on and put him under pressure and get stuck in early.

"He and outside centre Ryan Crotty are quality but you could say that for their whole team, in every position they have world-class talent.

"However, as a player that is a great challenge and one that you want.

"We know how quick they want to operate and play at a high tempo to get the ball around the park. We need to impose ourselves on the game, if we sit back and let them do their thing it will be a long 80 minutes and we will struggle."

Dunbar mentioned the strengths of the Williams-Crotty midfield for New Zealand and when the teams were named on Thursday many Scotland fans winced. That was because the Dunbar-Huw Jones centre partnership was exposed cruelly by England during the Six Nations earlier this year, the Auld Enemy running in seven tries in a 61-21 thumping that ended a number of Scots' Lions hopes.

The same midfield pairing will be on the field for Scotland at kick-off time, so what did Dunbar learn from that London lashing that he and Jones can take into this encounter? He added: "I'll be honest, it was a pretty frank review after that game at Twickenham, there were a lot of honest conversations.

"We did not play well but a lot of things were discussed and we moved on from that.

"We have a challenge in the backline this weekend and we have to put them under pressure.

"We have just focused on how we start the game. We can't sit back and let them play, we need to get in to their face.

"I have heard some pundits saying we'll get thumped and everyone has an opinion. But we've got enough leaders in the group and we've talked about how we have to start the game.

"If any team sits off and lets the All Blacks play then anyone can be beaten by 60-70 points.

"We did some very good stuff last week against Samoa and there were quite a few positives.

"We scored some great tries but there are obviously areas we have addressed and will look to improve on as this is a big step up against the best team in the world."

There is no doubt that Scotland have come on leaps and bounds since the loss to New Zealand three years ago - and Dunbar pinpoints that day as the start of an exciting journey.

He said: "There were a lot of young guys coming through about that time, a lot of new caps. There's a lot of good young talent who now have the experience of three years or more at the top level.

"There's probably half a dozen guys from 2014 who now have 20 to 30 caps so there's a lot of experience within the group.

"On that day three years ago we started well and put them under pressure, we forced them into mistakes they weren't used to making.

"We will learn from that, you can't sit off these teams and let them play.

"What a lot of us have learned having been on a journey together since 2014 is to focus for 80 minutes.

"You've got to concentrate on each play as it happens, focus on what is happening there and then and not let your mind wander.

"You have to play what's in front of you and this weekend that is New Zealand."

THE TEAMS SCOTLAND: S Hogg; T Seymour, H Jones, A Dunbar, L Jones; F Russell, A Price (all Glasgow); D Marfo, S McInally (both Edinburgh), Z Fagerson (Glasgow); B Toolis (Edinburgh), J Gray (Glasgow); J Barclay (Scarlets); H Watson, C du Preez (both Edinburgh).

Replacements: G Turner, J Bhatti (both Glasgow), H Pyrgos, P Horne (both Glasgow), S Berghan, G Gilchrist (both Edinburgh), L Hamilton (Leicester), B McGuigan (Sale). NEW ZEALAND: D McKenzie, W Naholo, R Crotty, S Bill Williams, R Ioane, B Barrett, A Smith, K Read, S Cane, V Fifita, S Whitelock, L Romano, N Laulala, C Taylor, K Hames.

Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, O Tu'ungafasi, L Squire, M Todd, TJ Perenara, L Sopoaga, A Lienert-Brown.

We will need to switch on and put him under pressure and get stuck in early on ALEX DUNBAR

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SMART ALEX Dunbar knows he must be on top of his game when facing Williams, main pic
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 18, 2017
Words:1068
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