Craig Dowd
No worse feeling than losing to England
Craig Dowd
June 4, 2014
Jerome Kaino should start ahead of Liam Messam, Craig Dowd believes © Getty Images

The All Blacks will not care whether England are below strength for the first Test or not.

Whenever the All Blacks play England, I don't care who is putting on the white jersey. It's all about the All Blacks.

England are our biggest rivals so far as they are the team we love to beat and hate to lose to. Craig Dowd explains a depth of feeling among New Zealand All Blacks

Having been in a team that lost to England, there is no worse feeling. There is a reason for that. England don't mean to be - and I know the English quite well having lived there for a long time - but they are not the best winners in the world. They do actually pull the shoulders back and poke the chest out, and they're proud of what they have done, when the beat you; but it shows a little bit more than the humility New Zealanders have about them as a mannerism. It grates us and it gets under our skin. A lot of it comes through their media and the big websites where England is the centre of the rugby world so far as they are concerned.

They would be our biggest rivals.

The most competitive games are obviously against South Africa and Australia, but England are our biggest rivals so far as they are the team we love to beat and hate to lose to.

England's Brad Barrit, Mike Brown and Chris Ashton celebrate, England v New Zealand, Twickenham, England, December 1, 2012
The mannerisms of England players in victory over New Zealand "grates us and it gets under our skin", Craig Dowd says © Getty Images

This week it is all about the All Blacks, and to someone who has been there you don't want to lose to them. It is a game you never forget. And that game in 1993 was the catalyst behind our 1995 victory over them in the Rugby World Cup semi-final in South Africa. That loss in 1993 scarred a lot of us, and it was still there in our performances in 1996 and 1997.

And there is that 10-year cycle of losses: 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003; I know it is 2014, but we did lose in 2012 so it is there or thereabouts.

I'm just keen to see the All Blacks get out there and do their thing. The first Test of the season, and a series, is always tough with combinations to be re-established and getting out of the rivalries associated with their Super Rugby franchises.

But there is enough experience in that New Zealand side to be able to cope with that. I just never take the English lightly, and I'm sure the All Blacks won't. They will remember that it makes the series success easier to claim the first Test and to face the stronger England team in the second Test when you are one up.

The selection this week will be all eyes on who gets the No.6 jersey. For me, you can't go past Jerome Kaino. As much has Liam Messam has been a really good All Blacks player - outstanding even for the past couple of seasons - Kaino is just at a different level.

When he left after the World Cup win in 2011, he was probably the world's best rugby player. He's come back and he hasn't missed a beat. He's regained his old form really quickly and you can't go past him on the evidence of the colossal form he put in at the weekend. The way he scored his try said everything about the power of the guy.

It is interesting the way the selectors have gone with the choice of Victor Vito. He has played really, really well and deserves his jersey, but I can't see him featuring the match 23 when Kieran Read is available. Kaino has made such a good fist of the No.8 jersey, but with Read being the incumbent No.8, once over his concussion issues, and Messam being able to cover No.8, you've got the position covered; and they all cover No.6 as well.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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