England

All Blacks fear the 'Suzy' virus

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 20:41
Stuart-lancaster-media-scru Steve-hansen-media2 Stuart-lancaster-gestures
What happened last year is irrelevant
Quote-end

England coach Stuart Lancaster kept his cool ahead of this coming Saturday's match against New Zealand after the world champions suggested last year's shock loss owed much to illness.

In the best result of Lancaster's reign, England beat the All Blacks by a record 38-21 at Twickenham in December last year.

However, several members of the New Zealand squad had been struck down with a virus earlier that week.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen refused to make any mention of illness immediately following the defeat, but he spoke about it following New Zealand's 26-19 win over France in Paris on Saturday.

"We didn't have enough energy to compete with the English," former Wales boss Hansen said.

"We're hoping we don't get a virus again," he added.

However, Lancaster responded Monday by saying: "All I can control last year was our performance and I feel we performed well.

"It's a different New Zealand team we're facing this time.

"What happened last year is irrelevant," added Lancaster, whose England side will be looking to complete their 10th win in 11 matches on Saturday.

"I'm sure they [New Zealand] will be motivated to play this game, they have an outstanding record this season and will be keen to finish off this Northern Hemisphere tour with two wins [against England and Ireland]."

New Zealand have lost just once in 33 matches - to England at Twickenham last year - since August 2011.

"It's an unbelievable record, not just over this season but since the last World Cup," an admiring Lancaster said of the All Blacks who, having won all 13 of their Tests so far in 2013, are eyeing a perfect record for the calendar year.

"There's certainly been no drop off in standards since the World Cup.

"If anything, they've gone up another level.

"They are rightfully number one in the world," Lancaster said.

AFP

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