Jerome Garces' recent card rate has commanded some attention and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has warned his players to work with the French referee or risk a stint in the naughty chair.
The All Blacks test against Scotland on Monday will be Garces' second tier-one assignment test after he took charge of England v Italy during the Six Nations.
His international inexperience, coupled with the startling fact he has handed out 11 yellow cards in 14 Heineken Cup matches, has clearly created a few nerves in the All Blacks camp about what might unfold at Murrayfield.
"It's his first test match and there have been some question marks as to why he hasn't had a test before now. That's quite encouraging," Hansen said as he tip-toed through the minefield of commenting on officials.
"He's been pretty strong on dishing out yellow cards. He's dished out 11 cards in 14 Heineken Cup games, so we need to be disciplined and listen to what he wants at the breakdown particularly.
"He'll be nervous because it's his first big test. We'll have to go with him, rather than work against him."
Hansen will also be aware Garces has a mixed record when it comes to the setpiece having been roundly criticised in England after Saracens' 16-13 win over Ospreys last December.
During that match the French whistler found 11 penalties from 12 scrums at one point before losing patience and sin binning South African hooker Schalk Brits for early engagement.
It's an area that will be important against Scotland, with some of the All Blacks frontrowers experiencing the three-stage scrum call of crouch-touch-set for the first time.
Another concern for the All Blacks is a buildup that's stretched past the norm.
The team had tried to delay their arrival in Edinburgh after the Scottish Rugby Union shifted the match from Saturday to Sunday afternoon (Monday NZ time).
"We've taken the view that the first three days were a camp and the scene set for the test from the Tuesday."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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