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Rowntree throws down the gauntlet

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 12:57
Rowntree-with-players-630 Graham-rowntree-_-stuart-la
There's going to come a point when we've got to start dominating teams, and I honestly don't think we're that far off
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Graham Rowntree has thrown down the gauntlet to the England forwards to produce "the full package" against New Zealand on Saturday.

England are the only team to beat the All Blacks since they lifted the World Cup on home soil in 2011, and they will be looking to make it two wins on the trot at Twickenham on Saturday.

Although the All Blacks will be out for some revenge at Twickenham on Saturday, Rowntree has called on his forward pack to show that they have what it takes to match the world champions up front.

"As a group we're always learning, but I don't want to be the young, learning pack forever," he said. "There's going to come a point when we've got to start dominating teams, and I honestly don't think we're that far off.

"We're learning within the game and we're learning week to week, but there's got to be a time soon when I want the full package from minute one," he added.

The forwards coach said that whilst his pack had shown some promising signs against the tough Pumas forwards last week, it was not the 80-minute performance that they had been looking for.

"I was delighted with our maul to score [through Joe Launchbury on Saturday] because not many teams have done that to Argentina recently. Our aggression, our breakdown was pretty good. We did all that very well and we certainly weren't complacent at half-time.

"Then we went out in the third quarter and made a lot of errors that put us back in our own 22 too easily - 22 kick-off receipts; getting penalised for the back foot at the breakdown; we failed to stop a driving maul from Argentina initially and got penalised there. They all bank up," he said.

Any such mistakes this weekend are likely to be seized upon by an All Blacks pack that continues to lead the way in most facets of the game.

Heading to Twickenham on the back of 12 straight Test triumphs, which included a 38-27 win against South Africa in a particularly epic encounter at Ellis Park, Steve Hansen's will be looking to raise the bar even higher.

"They're able to play at real intensity and sustain it like many teams can't," explained Rowntree. "They hold good width and they play in a very aggressive manner - all of which we've got to match.

"They're quite a settled team; they've managed to bring in players and develop them without having to change whole blocks of the team. But they're human and I think they're beatable.

"We try and get after every pack and stop any dominance they may hope to achieve. The breakdown receives major attention from us every day because we've got to be cleaner in possession. On their ball we've got to give them what they don't want.

"I'm challenging the forward pack all this week to put in a consistent performance and reach the heights we're going to have to reach if we're going to beat this team at the weekend," he added.

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