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England go back to history books

Andy Farrell insists England will enter Saturday's QBE International against New Zealand armed with a fighting spirit inspired by the nation's proud history as underdogs.

The world's first and third best team teams collide in a mouth-watering showdown at Twickenham with New Zealand, who start at 1/10 favourites, thirsting for revenge after being routed 38-21 in the same fixture last year.

"We've been doing a lot of work on the history of our country and what we are about as Englishmen, as English people. If you look back, that is when we are at our best," Farrell said.

"Because we are a little island we've always been underdogs and we've always come out fighting.

"Right throughout history we've shown that we're at our best when our backs are against the wall.

"We are at our best when a challenge is thrown down to us, and our players believe that as well. That's what we're all about and that's where we started from as a nation.

"Us being successful through challenges over a long history means the word 'arrogant' has been used about us.

"We're not arrogant whatsoever but we've got a proven track record as people that can deliver when our backs are against the wall."

Under head coach Stuart Lancaster, England have frequently invoked the nation's history as a source of motivation to play a game that Farrell describes as a "battleground".

"Rugby is a battleground, there's absolutely no doubt about that," England's backs coach said.

"There's not one coward who has ever taken to a rugby field, for the simple reason that there are collisions which make people wince.

"I talk to some of our football boys and they say that some of their foreign players say 'that's ludicrous, that's ridiculous, surely that's a foul" when it's just a tackle.

"It's a ferocious game and while you need to be cunning in your execution, you need to be at the right emotional level to perform."

Farrell refuses to draw any parallels to last autumn's record victory over the All Blacks beyond the presence of the self-belief required to topple the world champions.

"Our guys definitely believe that they can win, no doubt about that," he said.

"They know they have to be great together as a group, but they definitely know that they can win.

"As Englishmen we're not very good at telling our team-mates and colleagues what we actually think is good about them.

"Because of that we've done quite a lot of work this week on belief in each other. We know we can make this work."


From Belfast Telegraph