Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Upbeat England Shrug off the Critics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Upbeat England Shrug off the Critics

Article excerpt

Clive Woodward is entirely unconcerned by the negative Press England have received in New Zealand since their victory over the Maoris on Monday, but warned it could have a serious impact on the All Blacks.

The England coach accused the local media of being "one-eyed" after he read reports of the 23-9 victory in New Plymouth, which hinted the tourists had little more to offer than a powerful pack.

The digs have also prompted responses from captain Martin Johnson and senior players Lawrence Dallaglio and Jason Leonard, warning New Zealand not to underestimate the England back division.

And while Woodward believes the England camp are too professional to care what is written in the Press, he is confident the general perception that the tourists will "be smashed" will only work to fire his side up.

It is a classic case of `no-one likes us, we don't care'.

"All I care about is winning Test matches, that is what I am paid to do. In what esteem we are held and what people think about us, I can't control," said Woodward after being asked whether English rugby is respected highly enough in New Zealand.

"I think it's fair to say we are the most unpopular team wherever we go, you just kind of get used to it.

"In every country we go to - Wales, France, Ireland - we are the most unpopular team. You just have to live with it and get on with it. You almost thrive on it.

"Every now and then you don't mind throwing a few barrels back."

In public, though, both camps have been nothing more than entirely respectful of the other's strengths.

So much so that the only argument on the eve of such a "colossal" Test match was which side is the best in the world. In a bizarre state of affairs, each once again rated the other higher.

All Blacks skipper Reuben Thorne said the perception of England as no-hopers away from Twickenham, and in the southern hemisphere, was grossly outdated.

"I think in this day and age, home advantage isn't what it used to be," he said. …

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