Scotland star man Stuart Hogg has been watching clips of All Blacks’ full-back Ben Smith on repeat with the aim of picking up tips and getting into the best form of his life ahead of the World Cup opener with Ireland on September 22.
The 27-year-old has been one of the Scots’ main attacking outlets from No.15 over the years, but Exeter Chiefs-bound Hogg has scored only two tries in his last ten internationals.
Opponents have started to cut down the space he gets to run into from the back and that has forced Hogg, who has 69 caps, to re-think his plan of attack ahead of the showpiece event in Japan.
“I view it as a challenge that other teams mark me closely, I take it as a good thing that teams try to shut me down so now I’ve had to look at other ways to get involved in the game,” Hogg said ahead of the Pool A opener in Yokohama City in under a fortnight.
“That is something that I have been working on over the last few years, counter- attacking opportunities don’t come as often now in the modern game and for me it is all about being mature about the situation.
“Rather than trying to pull a magic move out of my backside I just have to do what is best for the team and I am always watching a lot of other rugby to try and learn new things.
“I am obsessed with the game and the best player in the world at the minute is Ben Smith of the All Blacks. If I can take parts of his game and add them to mine then that is great.
“His skill on the ball, positioning, work under the high ball, kick chase and his defence are second to none and this summer I have been watching him and other top full-backs closely to see where I can find an edge on the teams we are playing against.”
Meanwhile, confident character Hogg has stated that Scotland are going to Japan to win the World Cup come November 2.
Should they progress from the Pool into the knock-out stages they could face New Zealand or South Africa in the last eight. Having been thrashed 32-3 by France in their first warm-up game, they responded with a 17-14 victory at Murrayfield and Hogg said: “We are going out there to win it.
“If you think any differently as a player then there isn’t any point in going to Japan. We are going to take it game by game, but we want to build-up as we go along and put ourselves in a good frame of mind ahead of the quarter-finals.
“I’m delighted to be going to my second World Cup. We have been working hard as a group over the last couple of months to get to where we want to be and this squad is as strong as I’ve known it in recent years.”