x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Martin Johnson bids to end losing run

The head coach insists the time has come for England to end seven years of failure against New Zealand.

Martin Johnson insists the time has come for England to end seven years of failure against New Zealand.

Johnson was captain the last time England downed the All Blacks - 15-13 in driving Wellington rain on the pre-World Cup tour of 2003. Since then they have lost eight games in succession.

New Zealand arrive at Twickenham for today's clash as the world's No 1 side, but they had a 15-Test unbeaten run ended by Australia in Hong Kong last weekend.

Johnson knows England will need to produce their best performance of his two-year regime if they are to topple the Tri Nations champions.

The England head coach said: "It is a long time since England have beaten them. That is because they are good. They don't like losing to England.

"You always expect the All Blacks to play well. I have never seen them play badly. They might play poorly by their own standards but they are a very consistent team.

"We know it is going to be a real battle. We will get physically and mentally tested. Everything will be tested and we have got to be up for it.

"We have to be realistic. We will have to play the best this team has played in a Test match to beat these guys. We have the confidence and belief in what we do.

"The team is developing very well. What we know about the players is far better after the tour. The squad is in a pretty good place."

Despite their opponents' impressive form of late, Nick Easter, England's No 8, is confident he and his teammates can compete on a level playing field against them.

"It will be tough tomorrow but at the end of the day it is just us against them," he said. "We have to get stuck into them from the off.

"Some of the rugby (in their game against Australia last week) was scintillating stuff and we firmly believe we can play to that intensity."