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Shaw hails Dunedin experience

Veteran England lock Simon Shaw played for the Dunedin Pirates in 1991 - and two decades later he is still benefiting from that school of hard knocks.

The 38-year-old is not the only member of the England squad to have spent some formative time in New Zealand, all of them forwards. Tom Palmer and Tom Wood both played on the south island and Martin Johnson, the England manager, even represented the New Zealand Colts during a stint with King's Country.

"I was 17, 18 it had a lot of influence over my career. You couldn't have chosen a tougher environment than playing down here," said Shaw. "At that time there were a lot of All Blacks playing in the league and to learn from the very best was key."

He added: "We didn't have too many All Blacks in our side but we played against Jamie Joseph, John Timu, Mark Ellis, Aran Pene, the Bachop brothers.

"Playing in New Zealand decided my rugby future in terms of whether I took it up as a game I wanted to play at the highest level.

"When I went there, I had only been playing for about a year. I was a bit wet behind the ears and they taught me an enormous amount.

"I had a habit of trying to turn players over in the tackle and ending up on the wrong side. I have still got a few scars to prove it!"

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