England v New Zealand
England hope to shed half-game wonders reputation
November 15, 2013
England had a slow start against Australia, trailing by seven at the break, but came back strong to take the match by seven points © Getty Images

Assistant coach Andy Farrell hopes England can shed their recent reputation as half-game wonders when they round out their season against the All Blacks at Twickenham. England have been too strong for their two other southern hemisphere opponents this month, dispatching Australia 20-13 two weeks ago followed by a 31-12 drubbing of Argentina.

However, they were slow out of the blocks against the Wallabies, trailing by seven at halftime. It was the opposite against the Pumas last weekend, easing up after racing 24-6 clear inside half an hour.

"We've addressed playing for the whole game, whether that will happen or not is another game of rugby," Farrell said. "There have been a lot of good things about the two games, but also a drop off in concentration."

The former Great Britain rugby league international, who is the father of England first five-eighth Owen Farrell, says it is obvious that a more concerted performance will be needed to beat the world champion All Blacks on Saturday. Self-belief that they can repeat last year's 38-21 upset win at Twickenham is the first priority.

"If they're at their best, we need to be white-hot, but like anyone else the All Blacks can have an off day and not perform to their best. We've seen that," he said. "What they're good at is finding a way to win and that's something we've been particularly good at as well."

Farrell joined the chorus of superlatives ladled on New Zealand by the English team this week for building an outstanding record since the World Cup. An English newspaper this week published a private message uncovered by a journalist in the All Blacks' team room which read: "We are the the greatest team in the history of the world".

Farrell dismissed suggestions this was arrogance, describing it as warranted from an exceptional team. "You should always shoot for the stars and if any team is anywhere near that in world sport it's them," he said. "I don't think anyone is doing what they're doing at the moment. The closest to them is the Australia rugby league side because they've been dominant for years and years."


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