NZ Maori v England, Napier, June 23
Johnno expects Maori to front up
June 21, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson surveys his side, Australian Barbarians v England, Gosford, Australia, June 15, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson is expecting a tough ride from the New Zealand Maori © Getty Images

England manager Martin Johnson is expecting a tough ride up front when his side take on the New Zealand Maori in Napier on Wednesday.

Both sides go into the game on a wave of confidence, England after levelling their series against the Wallabies last weekend and the Maori after defeating Ireland in Rotorua, but many are predicting dominance for the tourists at the set-piece after their dismantling of the Australian scrum.

Johnson is more cautious in his assessment and was quick to point out the Maori's lineout threat and the undoubted class of their backline, which will includes All Blacks Luke McAlister and Hosea Gear.

"They don't give you a lot of shots at the lineout," he said. "You have to be pretty good at getting back out of your half or that ball will come back at you. You have to make your tackles and be pretty aggressive defensively as well at turnover ball.

"The whole backline is pretty dangerous. If you give them counterattack ball, they know what to do. A lot like the first Test [against Australia], if we let teams play, they will look good and score on you. If we get pressure on them and not let them play, then we put ourselves in with a chance.

"The fortunate thing with England is wherever you go, everyone wants to beat you and that's quite nice. It makes every game a big game and that's great. The bigger the game the better. That's what we've come for."

Maori coach Jamie Joseph has recalled prop Clint Newland and flanker Karl Lowe, a try-scorer against Ireland, for the game and is expecting his side to match England blow-for-blow.

"Yes we can," he said. "It's clearly an area where they have put a lot of emphasis and where they get their confidence from, and we've done the same."


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