I'll Miss Auckland

Posted on: 13 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Despite not being selected in the team for England's first test, Nick admits he'll miss Auckland and previews the big match.

I’m all settled in to camp now in New Zealand and I’ve just about got back to being up and about at the right time - although I still keep waking up far too early.

Nevertheless I’m feeling much fresher and my body is finally finding its feet on the other side of the world.

We’re playing New Zealand this weekend and although I’m not involved in the match squad it’s important I stay focused as you never know what’s round the corner in professional sport.

I had an inkling that I wouldn’t be starting but I’m a little disappointed not to be on the bench.

Still, I’m hopeful of playing some part in the second test and the players playing in my place are established domestic and international players so I can’t complain.

Steve Borthwick is leading the team and Wasps’ Tom Palmer is partnering him in the second row. Both players have had superb seasons and Tom really deserves his chance.

He’s played ever so well and played a key part in Wasps winning the Premiership title at the end of the season.

Ben Kay is the replacement lock. He’s no stranger to the international scene, he’s got mountains of experience and he’s still a real top class player.

Looking ahead to the game, we watched the New Zealand team play Ireland in the team room.

The conditions were awful but we all saw some areas where we can attack them and overall I didn’t think they looked that impressive.

However, they have had an extra week together now so I’m sure they’ll be on top form for when the game kicks off.

They’re very strong around the breakdown so we’ve done a lot of work on that this week in training, plus the weather is supposed to be clear so it should be a good spectacle.

I really think England can win this first test, if not both games.

If New Zealand play to their potential they can be very good and hard to stop.

They have dangermen all over the park; Ma’a Nonu in particular is a player we have to watch out for as he makes a lot of yards in midfield.

If we can keep Richie McCaw quiet I think we can win.

McCaw has such a big influence on matches, if we target him and don’t let him get his own way we should be in a great position to win the game.

They have so many talented players across the field, it would be unfair to pick just two out but we feel they’re the most dangerous of the bunch.

As for not being in the squad, I’m not sure about my duties on match day but after the game we’ll all be going out to a bar, hopefully to celebrate a win.

Then it’s straight on down to Christchurch on the south island where it’s been snowing this week!

It’ll be a shame to leave Auckland behind, it’s a lovely place. We’ve been lucky to stay in an excellent hotel with views of the harbour and plenty of food on offer – all very healthy of course.

So far in training we’ve been doing weights and power work in the morning followed by some lineouts or a team meeting before training in the afternoon.

We’ve had some afternoons off so we’ve had the chance to relax, take some time out and see Auckland.

Earlier in the week a Harley Davidson gang came and took all 32 of us out and about on the back of their bikes which was great.

A few of us also went white-water rafting and I even did a bungee jump, so it’s not been all work and no play.

With the time difference it’s been hard to stay in touch with people back home as much as I’d like but I’m here to do a job and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a win on Saturday and hopefully a place in the squad next week.

By Nick Kennedy, 12th June 2008

Nick Kennedy is currently with the England squad preparing to play New Zealand this weekend. The first test from Auckland will be screened live on Sky Sports at 8.30am on Saturday morning.

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