If Manu’s fit and fir­ing Eng­land can re­peat their 2012 feat

The Rugby Paper - - News - By NEALE HAR­VEY

TOM Youngs be­lieves Eng­land can go about si­lenc­ing their army of doubters against New Zealand on Satur­day by pro­duc­ing the same kind of no-fear per­for­mance his own un­der­rated side did six years ago.

Eng­land’s 38-21 vic­tory over the All Blacks in De­cem­ber 2012 is rev­ered as one of the Red Rose’s great­est achieve­ments. Go­ing into that game, how­ever, Young re­calls how his side were damned as no-hop­ers af­ter de­feats to Aus­tralia and South Africa.

A team con­tain­ing just 206 caps to New Zealand’s 788 con­founded the odds against the world cham­pi­ons, though, as Stu­art Lan­caster’s side, en­er­gised by Manu Tuilagi in his pomp, sal­vaged their au­tumn cam­paign against the shell-shocked Ki­wis. Leicester hooker Youngs,

right, who won his fourth cap that day, told The Rugby

Pa­per: “We were def­i­nitely un­der huge pres­sure af­ter los­ing to Aus­tralia and South Africa, but it ac­tu­ally tight­ened us as a group and we got ready for a mas­sive, mas­sive bat­tle.

“They had both been nar­row de­feats – 20-14 and 16-15 – so de­spite all the crit­i­cism we knew we weren’t far off. I remember us hav­ing a re­ally good week of train­ing and go­ing in with a no-fear men­tal­ity with a view to tak­ing New Zealand on.

“New Zealand week is dif­fer­ent. As now, we were play­ing the world cham­pi­ons; they’d been un­beaten since the World Cup and you know that if you’re not play­ing some­where near your best you’re go­ing to get spanked be­cause they’re a qual­ity side.

“But we de­liv­ered a per­for­mance we knew we could and it was just a great oc­ca­sion. The Twick­en­ham crowd was very loud, we didn’t al­low them to gain any psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage from the Haka it was a mo­ment that will live with me for a very long time.”

Eng­land’s rel­a­tive in­ex­pe­ri­ence did not ham­per them ei­ther, with Youngs adding: “It was only my fourth cap and Keven Mealamu, who I op­posed at hooker that day, had over 100.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence they had over us was mas­sive – nearly four times as many caps – but with that you’re al­most not scared in some re­gards; you just think, ‘right, we’ll just go at it, try to ex­press our­selves and throw ev­ery­thing at them to try and get the win. “Manu had a great game that day and was pretty much the dif­fer­ence be­tween the sides with the way he man­aged to break tack­les, off­load and be a phys­i­cal threat. “There’ll be lots of guys in this side who’ve never faced New Zealand be­fore but they’ve got their chance now and my ad­vice is to rel­ish it. I wouldn’t say it’s a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to beat them but it’s cer­tainly a great feather to stick in your cap.” While Eng­land’s form this year has been in­con­sis­tent, it high­lights fur­ther par­al­lels with the class of 2012 who came into their match against the All Blacks on the back of a los­ing se­ries in South Africa and one win in six games dur­ing June and Novem­ber.

Youngs added: “It’s very sim­i­lar but mo­men­tum can change very quickly in Test rugby – a win against New Zealand now can wipe away a lot of doubts.

“Our team went on to have a pretty suc­cess­ful Six Na­tions and en­joyed a de­cent a win­ning streak.

“Eng­land must be very ac­cu­rate and not al­low New Zealand quick ball. Our set-piece and break­down were very good and we kept Richie McCaw and Dan Carter at bay, so if the cur­rent side can do the same, things will be writ­ten very dif­fer­ently.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Game changer: Manu Tuilagi beats Dan Carter to score a try

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