Rugby World Cup 2011: Paterson keeps eye on the ball

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Scotland full-back Chris Paterson is unconcerned about the World Cup match balls amid the furore which has seen England suspend two members of senior management ahead of tomorrow’s Pool B clash at Eden Park in Auckland.

Windy conditions have made for a difficult performance with the boot thus far, but Paterson has no complaints with the balls which have caused such controversy and have seen Jonny Wilkinson’s mentor Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon banned from tomorrow’s match.

The Edinburgh star said: “We’ve trained with the balls since June or July and we get on and train with it. As long as they stay on the tee I’m trying my best, to be honest.”

Alred and Stridgeon were yesterday suspended by the Rugby Football Union after being found to have illegally switched balls during England’s 67-3 victory over Romania last Saturday. Both Alred, the kicking coach, and Stridgeon have been banned from entering Eden Park tomorrow.

The RFU was forced to act on ‘ballgate’ after England became the subject of a misconduct investigation by Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL).

Alred and Stridgeon were found to have switched the ball Wilkinson was due to kick with on a number of occasions, without requesting permission from referee Romain Poite.

Paterson believes their absence will have a negligible impact on England fly-half Wilkinson’s performance.

Scotland’s most-capped player and record points scorer, who is set to play in his 15th World Cup fixture tomorrow, added: “Jonny’s kicked for a long time. He’ll understand his own kicking performance better than anyone, so I’m sure he’ll be just fine.”

Paterson believes much of a coach’s role is completed before the 80 minutes of action commences.

He added: “The kicking coach, along with all coaches, do their work throughout the week. I think there is a noticeable transfer to players taking ownership on matchday.

“I would just go through my normal routine. I’m quite lucky. I’ve worked with Duncan (Hodge, the Scotland kicking coach) and other coaches for a long time and I’d like to think I’ve built up a wee bit of knowledge myself.

“They’re there as a reference, but it would be for me to go to them, rather the coach to approach you on a match day.”

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson preferred to focus on his side, rather than comment on the situation in the opposition camp.

Robinson, whose side must win tomorrow by eight clear points to have a chance of making the last eight, said: “We’ve got to take care of what we’re about. It’s a hard enough job without worrying about the opposition and what they’re up to. It’s about us.”