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Tom Tour's Diary
The anonymous Englishmen
Tom Hamilton
June 3, 2014
You could pick out an All Black in a lineout, but what about an English player? © Getty Images

Wherever you go in Auckland, you are met with the All Blacks. Next to my hotel near the harbour is what seems to be a shrine to all things All Black. Stepping off the plane at Auckland international, you are met with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter advertising New Zealand's airline, in truth seeing an advert for a plane is just about the last thing on your mind following a 24-hour flight.

They are built into New Zealand's DNA. Stop a Kiwi on the street and they'd be able to name a likely starting XV for Saturday's game.

But when questioned about the England team and asked to name one of their players, Kiwi lock Brodie Retallick, who was up in front of the press on Tuesday, answered "Michael Laws", the former mayor of Wanganui and a well known media personality on these shores.

Now, we are all guilty of the odd confusion over names and the odd slip but it did illustrate their unfamiliarity with this England team. Added to that, presuming Retallick meant Courtney Lawes, he is not even in the mix for Saturday's game anyway.

For what it's worth Ma'a Nonu, when prompted with a similar question, singled out Manu Tuilagi and mentioned his role in their loss at Twickenham in 2012.

The bookies have written England off here in Auckland - they are 8/1 to win on Saturday with the All Blacks priced at 1/16. When I ventured into a bookies earlier today to ask one whether the odds had changed following Kieran Read's injury, the response was "Nah mate, we've got enough good players to step in. No bother".

Nonu did talk up England, as all players do when asked questions about opposition's strengths, but England will hope there is a sense of recklessness about the Kiwis. When you have players like Conrad Smith in your team who have only tasted defeat seven times out of the 75 times he has played for the All Blacks, perhaps that's England's best chance … according to the locals anyway.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
Follow him on Twitter @tomESPNscrum