Bath lock Charlie Ewels played a handful of minutes against South Africa last week to earn his seventh cap under Eddie Jones, his first coming off the bench two years ago against Fiji in a November series where he also featured against Argentina and Australia.
He spoke to RugbyPass about preparing to face world champions New Zealand this weekend.
Ewels said, “It’s something that as a kid growing up, that’s your dream to play for England and probably on top of that is to test yourself against the best in the world so this is a week where I’m absolutely chuffed and delighted to be involved from a personal point of view.
“Equally, I can’t wait to see as team, for us to test ourselves against the best in the world.”
With so much focus on this match in particular, does Ewels find it tough to keep focus on the game and his role as a replacement whilst all the time being so aware of the quality of the opposition?
He said, “I think it’s easy. The way that we’re coached here, there’s so much detail, they’re so methodical in what we’re doing and actually, there’s been no difference in this week to any other test week. It’s exactly the same. You review what happened last weekend, you look at the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses, come up with a game plan and then execute that game plan. If anything I’ve probably been surprised at how little that’s been a distraction. It’s just another week – yes there’s going to be the emotion but that doesn’t really kick in until game day. So in terms of the training and stuff, it’s been like it always has been, the detail’s been great.”
Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock start for New Zealand, arguably the best second row partnership in world rugby. Ewels agrees, “Yeah, they’re up there. From a personal point of view they’re guys that I’ve watched. As you’re developing as a player, you want to learn from the best in the world and now I’m fortunate enough to be getting a chance to test myself against them.”
When it comes to playing the All Blacks, so few teams can live with the pace and offloading skills that they demonstrate. So how does Ewels think England can thwart them?
He said, “If you get stuff right at the start of your defensive set it makes things a lot easier there forward. They’re extremely good at attacking against unstructured defences when they can find holes and then they can get into that game. If we’re disciplined and stick to what we do from set piece and kick chase then hopefully we don’t give them
those pictures and then no one can offload if they’re being drilled back by two people, so that’s the plan.”
Watch: Mark Wilson speaks about back row battle against All Blacks
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