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VIDEO – Farrell: We’re at our best as a nation when a challenge comes our way

15 November 2013

  • Backs coach says England must attack the All Blacks 
  • We won't focus on Carter and Smith, says Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell expects England to meet their biggest challenge with their best performance when they face world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

The England backs coach admits the All Blacks, boasting attacking talents such as Julian Savea, Israel Dagg and Kieran Read, will test his English defence to their limits in the third QBE International this autumn.

But he expects England to impose their game on the All Blacks as well as rise to the inevitable defensive challenge posed by a team that has won 12 games on the trot and scored 24 tries in the recent Rugby Championship.

“They are a great side and well drilled, and their constant improvement in the performance is what has made them the champion side that they are,” he said. “It is going to be a tough ask, there is no doubt about that, but I think we are at our best as a nation when a challenge comes our way. Let’s not forget that we are at Twickenham and doing pretty ok ourselves.

“They will certainly test us. They are a side that consistently scores quite a good average of points. There is no doubt they will ask questions of our defence and they will score points, no doubt about that.

“On the reverse side of that we want to impose our game on to them and we have got to go out there and attack them and score points ourselves because you cannot just sit back and hope to defend a win against New Zealand. You have got to go out and make the scoreboard tick over yourself.”

Aaron Smith, Dan Carter and Kieran Read celebrate a New Zealand try

Photo: Getty Images

Scrum half Aaron Smith and fly half Dan Carter – who will win his 100th cap – will again be crucial to the All Blacks’ attacking gameplan, both with ball in hand and through their astute tactical kicking. But Farrell revealed that in the build-up to the game they have not been focusing on stopping the deadly duo.

When asked if England would target the half-back combination for special attention, he said: “They are certainly great players. They have great ability to control games and bring their big stride runners into the game. Is it something we have been targeting? Not really.

“They are pretty important players but as an attacking unit, as a team unit, they all seem to be on the same page so we have got to make sure we understand what they are about as a group. In training we have been pretty good this week and the boys are raring to go.

“There are not that many weaknesses throughout their side that is why they are the champion side that they are. But it is about us imposing our game and trying to play to a pace and tempo that does not allow them to settle and keep the momentum going.

“If we do that, as we have seen in patches over the last few weeks, we can be a threat for everyone. Some of our attack in the first half against Argentina would have caused New Zealand threats so we need to concentrate on our own game.”

Under Stuart Lancaster, the England coaches have been eager to impress upon the players the rich rugby history which they are now part of, with one such example being the many references to former players and past glories which now adorn the walls in the new England dressing room.

England backs coach Andy Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

And Farrell believes such sources of inspiration can instil in the players even greater level of emotional energy, which will be crucial to overcoming the relentless All Blacks.

“It is massively important because it is not just like any other match, playing for your country,” he said. “You have a responsibility to yourself and your family, to your team-mates and the nation. And that brings out different emotions and feelings and you have to be aware of that because hopefully that can transfer into a performance that makes everyone proud come game day.

“The changing room had been pretty much the same for quite a while so it needed a bit of a revamp. We were trying to get the feeling of what we are trying to work with within the group and connect to the history of our past players, so who has been in the changing room and who has worn the shirt.

“It is a nice revamp – they look absolutely fantastic – but they are a working changing room that is steeped in history. It gives you a feeling of what it is like to be English and what it is like to be an English rugby player playing at Twickenham.”