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'We’re all die-hard football fans': England given 'massive' Euro 2024 boost

By PA
England Head Coach Steve Borthwick (R) and captain Jamie George (L) speak to media following the International Test Match between New Zealand All Blacks and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Jamie George says England have been inspired by their footballing counterparts reaching the final of Euro 2024 as they target their own famous victory against New Zealand.

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England’s squad gathered in the team room of their Auckland hotel to watch Gareth Southgate’s men dispatch the Netherlands 2-1 and set-up a showdown with Spain on Sunday evening.

The two camps have been in regular contact through their head coaches and George admitted the result “created a huge buzz” that his tourists are aiming to harness when they face the All Blacks on Saturday.

“We’re all die-hard football fans so the performance has given us a massive lift. You can see the impact it has on so many people,” George said.

“England are a very proud nation and we’re very proud of our sports teams. We want to make sure the England rugby team is part of that conversation.

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“There’s so much going on with the Euros and Wimbledon. The England cricket team are looking pretty good at the moment too.

“We want to make sure that we throw our hands up. Getting a win at Eden Park would certainly do that.”

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Succeeding at Eden Park would also send shockwaves around the rugby world given it is 30 years since New Zealand lost at their Auckland fortress.

England are determined to finish the season on a high, especially after conceding a winnable first Test in Dunedin 16-15 despite entering the final quarter with a five-point lead.

“Coming to New Zealand is very, very difficult. We had a taste of that last weekend,” George said.

“At the same time I love playing at Eden Park because it’s hostile and the crowd are brilliant. We want to go out there and do something special.

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“It would be one of the greatest achievements in English rugby being able to do that. I’m saying that because we’ve got a huge amount of respect for the All Blacks coming off the back of the weekend.

“Their record at Eden Park is amazing. We expect them to be more confrontational and more direct.

“We’re ready for that but at the same time you can’t go into Test match rugby with too much expectation because that’s often when you get caught out. We’ll be ready for everything.”

Head coach Steve Borthwick has made one enforced change by naming Fin Baxter at loosehead prop in place of Joe Marler, who has been ruled out by a foot injury.

Baxter replaced his Harlequins team-mate in the first Test for his international debut and the 22-year-old rookie made telling contributions, although he was part of an England scrum that was put under pressure.

“Fin takes everything in his stride. It was a really difficult situation that he found himself coming into,” George said.

“A few scrum calls had gone against us and that can be quite a daunting prospect, but he just got on with it, worked incredibly hard and put in a brilliant performance. He deserves his start and has got an exciting future.”

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Wonton 3 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 5 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

15 Go to comments
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