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Relaxed Robshaw aiming for balance

Chris Robshaw insists the demise of England's Grand Slam hopes in Cardiff has guarded them against facing New Zealand while drained by emotion.

The All Blacks arrive at Twickenham on Saturday for the final QBE International intent on avenging last autumn's stunning 38-21 defeat, their only loss in 33 games.

For England it is a chance to demonstrate they are a legitimate threat to the World Cup holders in 2015 as they seek to become only the second Red Rose team to register successive wins against the game's dominant force.

It is comfortably their biggest match since they were savaged 30-3 by Wales in March when seeking to be crowned RBS 6 Nations champions.

Robshaw insists England's downfall at the Millennium Stadium was partly explained by the nervous energy expended during the week - a mistake the camp have taken steps to avoid on Saturday.

"Emotional balance is crucial this week and we've got some good coaches around us who have been in these sort of situations before," Robshaw said.

"Graham Rowntree has talked about one of his experiences where all week he was pumped up and ready to go, but by the time it got to the game his legs were heavy.

"We potentially did that during the week before we played Wales last season.

"We maybe got a bit too pumped up early in the week and got too excited, which took it out of us a bit. We need to control that.

"Of course you need to train hard and be focused and have that intensity when you need it, but you also have to make sure that mentally you try to stay relaxed.

"Everyone will want to be speaking about New Zealand and of course what happened last year means the fans have been talking about this game for a while now.

"But as players we have to keep our cool until we get to Friday, Saturday. I've got no doubt that the boys will be revved up come Saturday afternoon."

Robshaw's confidence as captain is growing. He was among England's star performers in the wins against Australia and Argentina and the indecision that undermined his leadership last autumn has vanished.

The Harlequins openside spoke with calm assurance as he considered the prospect of facing an All Blacks team that, by their own admission, are still smarting from their humiliation at Twickenham last year.

Issuing a call to arms for the greatest challenge in rugby, Robshaw has vowed England will meet New Zealand head-on.

"I'm sure New Zealand have been waiting 12 months for this opportunity," he said.

"We were the only team to beat them last year so I've no doubt they'll want to beat us now.

"They'll be wanting to get one over on us and we'll be wanting to do exactly the same to them. Both teams are going into this game to win.

"We've got the number one team in the world coming to, effectively, the home of rugby.

"They're going to want to play their game and we're going to hopefully nullify that and put ours on the pitch.

"We can't go into this game waiting to get a shot at them or potentially get first blood. We need to make sure that from minute one we are in the fight.

"Last year's win against them didn't just happen. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of backs against the wall stuff, a lot of fighting spirit.

"We need to make sure we emulate that. We don't want to saying after the final whistle 'it's okay, we won one last year' We want to go out here and leave everything on the pitch."

England's next fixture is their Six Nations appointment with France on February 1, prompting Robshaw to stress the importance of making New Zealand their 10th victory in 11 matches.

"You want to finish well because otherwise it lingers around for a while. There's a good couple of months before the Six Nations," he said.

"You don't want that sour taste and be thinking 'We could have done this or that.' I'm sure both teams will give it their all this weekend.

"You want to make sure you finish well and, hopefully, be remembered."


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