Rugby

England have All Black plan

2010-11-02 20:51
Andrew Sheridan (AFP)

Bagshot - While the rest of the world is getting excited about the free-flowing, high scoring rugby that characterised the Tri-Nations, England are determined to slam the brakes on at Twickenham.

England face New Zealand on Saturday and then take on Australia, Samoa and South Africa, but their coaches have been anything but mesmerised by the 100% increase in tries scored in the southern hemisphere's elite competition.

"Three of those matches averaged 77 points and to me that isn't Test rugby," England defence coach Mike Ford told reporters at the team's training base on Tuesday.

"Even on Saturday, which was a fantastic game (when Australia beat New Zealand 26-24), there were 50 points.

"We want to make this a good old-fashioned rugby game. Whatever you think that means, we know what we think it means and we're pretty confident with what we can do defensively."

Ford said the latest change in interpretation of the laws, particularly at the breakdown, had not changed his approach.

"We have a no-excuse mentality," he said. "Everyone's talking about how many tries there are and how exciting it is but we are confident we can stop that.

"When we haven't got the ball on Saturday we are going to endeavour to produce one of the best defensive performances ever."

Manager Martin Johnson said the team were a long way forward from this time last year when injuries disrupted preparations.

He was able to name a team showing one change from that which beat Australia 21-20 in Sydney in June - the introduction of Andrew Sheridan for Tim Payne in the front row.

The huge loosehead Sheridan is back in action after shoulder surgery cut his season short in October last year. His last England game was in the 2009 Six Nations, though he did appear for the Lions in that year's series in South Africa.

New Zealand, whose 15-game winning streak was ended by Australia in Hong Kong last Saturday, will name their team on Thursday as they seek a ninth successive win over England.

"The aura is there with New Zealand but when you go through the analysis and see what people do well and not so well they are a rugby team," said Johnson.

"You have to have respect but be not too respectful. They are good of course but you don't want to come off saying we didn't have a crack because we were inhibited."

Five players - Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs, Courtney Lawes and former New Zealand rugby league international Shontayne Hape - will be making their first starts at Twickenham while there are two uncapped players on the bench in lock David Attwood and flank Hendre Fourie.

Johnson, who captained England in their last victory over the All Blacks in Wellington in 2003, said he was confident his youngsters would rise to the occasion.

"It's how they handle it. They're excited to go and play, we need to go and take our shot," he said.

"You don't get many so let's have a real go at it."

England (15-1):

Ben Foden (Northampton Saints); Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Shontayne Hape (Bath), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks); Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Nick Easter (Harlequins), Lewis Moody (Bath, captain), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers); Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints); Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks)

Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), David Wilson (Bath), Dave Attwood (Gloucester), Hendrie Fourie (Leeds), Danny Care (Harlequins), Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks), Delon Armitage (London Irish).


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