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Marler unfazed by All Blacks myth

England prop Joe Marler admits to once being duped by the All Blacks myth, only for an agonising first Test defeat to expose their vulnerability.

Saturday's desperately close 20-15 loss at Eden Park will forever be viewed as a missed opportunity after Stuart Lancaster's tourists outplayed their opponents until the final minutes.

Marler arrived in New Zealand burdened by the perception that the All Blacks, who have amassed 15 successive Tests victories, are invincible.

Now he insists England will attempt to level the series at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium knowing the World Cup holders can be toppled.

"From a personal point of view I probably had the idea in my head that they're invincible," the Harlequins loosehead said.

"I've always looked on the All Blacks as year-on-year the best team in the world.

"Automatically you believe they have the best players in the world from one to 15 because that's how you think. That's how I thought as a player.

"When you break it down and look at them as individuals and collectively, there are 15 blokes on a field trying to do the same as you.

"We went into the game at Eden Park having spent the build-up trying to get rid of this All Black myth or aura of how they are invincible.

"We respect them as a team, know they have several world-class players and know they are world champions.

"But Saturday helped us even further. Now we can go toe-to-toe with these guys and if we want to win we need to go that extra step.

"We have to win this weekend to take it down to the last Test. We're confident that if we fine tune a few things we can push the All Blacks even closer."

England have been accused of employing deliberate go-slow tactics at Eden Park in a bid to reduce the tempo of the match.

The length of time taken to form scrums and line-outs was noted by All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, who admitted he was concerned by the delays.

"It does get frustrating because you want to play a game that challenges people aerobically," said Hansen, while local media claimed the tactics were used because of England's inferior conditioning.

The claims have surprised England, who pride themselves on their fitness levels, with Marler branding them "nonsense".

"We want to play at a high tempo and we showed that in the Six Nations when we took France, Ireland and Wales on at that sort of game," he said.

"Of course they've come out and said we slow the game down. I didn't see them running to any of the scrums or line-outs quicker than us. It's not a tactic of ours to slow the game down.

"As a spectator or a neutral you'd probably look at it and say it wasn't a great game to watch because there were a lot of dropped balls and set-pieces.

"That's why the game was slow. It's nonsense."

England name their team for the second Test on Wednesday night with some tight calls to be made at hooker, inside centre and on the wing.

"There's been more edge than usual because the boys coming in want to put their hands up and the only way to do that is in training," Marler said.


From Belfast Telegraph