- Chris Robshaw says uncertain start will be punished by All Blacks
- England skipper promises belief will be there at Eden Park
Chris Robshaw believes his young England side will relish the chance to end the All Blacks’ 32-game unbeaten run at Eden Park on Saturday, but insists the tourists must make an assured, exact start.
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Having arrived in Auckland last Thursday, Robshaw and the 31-strong squad of players not involved in the Aviva Premiership final have had a prolonged period of acclimatisation ahead of this weekend.
Stuart Lancaster’s diligent approach to training means no stone has remained unturned in terms of on-field preparation either. And while Robshaw is one of just seven starters to remain from England's final RBS 6 Nations encounter in Italy, he is confident that any uncertainty has been ironed out.
With Geoff Parling and James Haskell alongside him as part of the pack, as well as Ben Youngs and Mike Brown bookending a sparky backline, there is a decent foundation of experience.
Even so, citing the contrast of England’s last two meeting with New Zealand at Twickenham – a 38-21 win in 2012 and a 30-22 defeat a year later – the Harlequins openside explained the importance of early poise.
“Two years ago we started well,” he said. “Last November we conceded 17 points in about 15 minutes and then had to play catch-up. When we did manage to get back in front, we were exhausted and they finished really well with a late flurry.
“The start is massively important, especially in this first Test. Eden Park is the traditional home of New Zealand rugby so we’re looking forward to it massively.
“In November they just came out of the blocks all guns blazing. It was a cracking offload out the back from Kieran Read to Julian Savea [for their first try]and they caught us out.”
“By the time we are in the changing room, the belief will be there. By then it will be about composure and making sure we go out there and think clearly.
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“We might not get a lot of opportunities so we need to be absolutely clinical when they come. You’ve got to back yourself and that’s what we’ll be doing.”
Of course the weight of history is stacked against England. Aside from New Zealand’s Eden Park record, there is the fact that the All Blacks have not lost in 18 months and touring sides from these shores have only ever garnered a pair of victories in the Land of the Long White Cloud – in 2003 and in 1973.
However, Robshaw,who goes head-to-head with opposite number and 124-Test veteran Richie McCaw, seemed certain his charges could meet the magnitude of the occasion.
“In coming here to New Zealand where England have only ever won two games, this is an opportunity for us as a nation to do something special.
“Every player always likes going up against the best in the business and Richie McCaw is definitely one of them. They have a lot of key individuals throughout their side, though, and I’m sure our players are relishing the chance to face them.”