Thu, Nov 02, 2006 - Page 19 News List

England coach determined to beat All Blacks

AFP , BISHAM, ENGLAND AND PARIS

England coach Andy Robinson has insisted the reigning world champions will not make the same mistake as many other sides and be beaten before they start against New Zealand at Twickenham on Sunday.

The All Blacks are currently the world's No. 1 team and are firm favorites for next year's World Cup in France.

England may be at home, but Robinson's preparations have been disrupted by a series of injuries and his side are overwhelming underdogs for a match they must win to end a run of five straight Test defeats.

"I've seen teams play New Zealand over the last two years and they've gone on the pitch and, just with their body language, they've lost. They haven't had the belief to take them on," he said.

"It's vital we do that, but it's also important we put the processes in place in terms of the way we play and we play intelligently. That's the key for us. Not only have we got to match New Zealand physically and dominate them physically, we've got to be intelligent in the way we play," the former England flanker added.

And he insisted that, even with the World Cup on the horizon, victory at the weekend remained the priority.

"There's a competitive edge from the whole team. You can never get away from that. The England team, everybody is passionate about us performing well. Everybody's passionate about us going on the pitch to win," said Robinson, who was assistant to Sir Clive Woodward when England won the 2003 World Cup.

"We pick competitive animals that enjoy winning, that get turned on by winning and go on the pitch with that ability. It's a challenge for us to win the game, and that's what the coaches, myself, Martin Corry as captain, everybody goes on that pitch believing we are going to win this game," Robinson said.

England suffered further disruption to their side on Tuesday when wing Mark Cueto was ruled out. The Sale flyer suffered an ankle injury picked up in his club's European Cup defeat to the Neath-Swansea Ospreys on Oct. 20.

Uncapped Wasps wing Paul Sackey has been drafted into the side as a third debutant, joining Gloucester center Anthony Allen and Bristol scrum-half Shaun Perry.

Sackey, 26, has amassed a half-century of Premiership tries during his career, while his previous representative experience included appearances for England Saxons during the Churchill Cup in Canada earlier this year, England Under-21s and England Sevens.

Cueto becomes the latest player to miss out, with the likes of Josh Lewsey, Olly Barkley, Jonny Wilkinson, James Forrester and Steve Borthwick already sidelined.

So bad is Robinson's injury situation that he called up three players from outside his squad to join training earlier on Tuesday -- Bristol No. 8 Dan Ward-Smith, Castres center Phil Christophers and Wasps fullback Mark van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen has been named on the replacements' bench, which Robinson confirmed at England's National Sports Center on Tuesday.

England head into Sunday's match knowing they are in danger of losing six Tests on the trot for the first time since the early 1970s.

France suffered a major blow ahead of their autumn tests when star lock Jerome Thion was ruled out for up to five weeks with a torn thigh muscle on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old, who captained France briefly last autumn before suffering a fractured larynx against the Springboks, will be replaced by Castres' Lionel Nallet in the squad.

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