Robinson sounds England battle cry

England boss Andy Robinson has rallied the world champions for their Twickenham showdown with New Zealand by telling them: "There are no backward steps allowed." [more]

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England boss Andy Robinson has rallied the world champions for their Twickenham showdown with New Zealand by telling them: "There are no backward steps allowed."

Robinson knows England must at least match the All Blacks’ renowned physical presence as they target a famous victory that would end New Zealand hopes of achieving a first successful Grand Slam tour since 1978.

Those prospects received an unexpected boost when star flanker Richie McCaw was ruled out of the All Blacks line-up through injury, while Robinson confirmed fly-half Charlie Hodgson’s recovery from a minor groin problem in an unchanged England team.

"It is a big disappointment for them to lose McCaw, who is a great leader, but in comes a very fine player in Chris Masoe. To be honest, I have never ever seen a poor New Zealand number seven," said Robinson.

"We’ve got belief in our game, whether McCaw is playing or not. We are playing against the world’s best team, and it is a massive challenge. Above all, we need to be error-free.

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"In terms of how to deal with the Kiwis, there are no backward steps allowed," he added.

"New Zealand are superb at scoring off turnovers, they strike at you very quickly, and from numbers one to 15 they can off-load really well in the tackle because of outstanding pace and support runners.

"New Zealand are very streetwise. It will be very physical, and some people have used the word brutal, but it will also be one of the big sporting occasions of the year."

England will require a huge effort from their front-five to try and stop New Zealand at source.

"We have been able to shut out South Africa, Australia and the French in terms of defence, but New Zealand are better at punishing errors, and quicker," said Robinson.

"The contact area is the key, it’s where the dark acts occur, and often they border on illegality. We need the referee (Irishman Alan Lewis) to be on his toes."

England plan on doing their utmost to turn Twickenham into a fortress – Land of Hope and Glory will be aired after New Zealand complete their traditional pre-match haka – but it remains the biggest challenge they have faced, arguably since beating the Kiwis in Wellington more than two years ago.

"I reject suggestions that we are underdogs," said defiant England centre Mike Tindall, whose midfield contest opposite Tana Umaga and Aaron Mauger is another critical area.

"We are at home, where we believe we should win. We have a very proud tradition at Twickenham, and we want to deliver for the supporters, who always back us totally.

"Last week against Australia was all about winning and getting off to a really good start to the autumn Tests.

"Now, we need to build on that and take the next step up, but New Zealand are the best team I’ve played against, certainly on their current form. Umaga and Mauger always play well as a partnership, (fly-half) Dan Carter is in great form and you know what to expect from their back-three.

"It is no coincidence that South Africa have beaten them (in 2004 and 2005) by playing a big pressure game, but then New Zealand never stand still. They will have learnt from that."

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