We Deserved Our Defeat

Posted on: 23 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Nick analyses England's first test with New Zealand and reveals that Topsy Ojo is now considered a superstar down under.

I’ve just arrived in Christchurch as we prepare to play the All Blacks for the second and final time this weekend.

It’s a bit colder here and there’s not much around us and not a lot to do – which is good for the squad as we focus on beating New Zealand.

There’s been a bit of controversy surrounding certain issues which I believe has reached home and the news in the UK.

It’s not my place to comment on those issues but its times like these that pull you together as a squad.

I’ve also found out that I won’t be included in the team of 22 to play in Christchurch and I’m pretty gutted to say the least.

I’ve spoken to John Wells, the England forwards coach, and he’s explained to my why and I guess it was always going to be pretty tough with the England captain playing in your spot.

Still, I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being here, I’m just a little annoyed not to get a chance – as a few others are in the squad.

It’s made me all the more determined to go back and have a good pre-season with London Irish and do well again next year in the Guinness Premiership.

I’m very proud to have been picked, I want to stay in the England squad but I don’t want to just make up the numbers.

I want to play for my country and if I keep performing well for Irish then hopefully I’ll get another chance in the next England game.

As for the first test against New Zealand last week, I think it’s fair to say we deserved to lose the game.

In our analysis of the match, a few key aspects weren’t up to the top level that is needed to succeed in New Zealand.

Our defence was poor as was our scrimmaging and overall not many people played particularly well or to their ability.

My club-mate from Irish, Topsy Ojo, did however. He scored two tries – our only highlight and he made the scoreline much more acceptable.

To score two tries on your debut, down in New Zealand and at Auckland’s Eden Park is pretty much unheard of in world rugby and he’s already gained a huge reputation down here.
He’s turned into a superstar overnight with kids calling his name in the street and women sending him over drinks in the bars.

He’s pretty surprised by it all as back home people know his name but maybe wouldn’t recognise us if we were wandering about.

I’m delighted for him though; he’s had an excellent season and deserved his chance. He deserves a pat on the back for taking it and hopefully he can become a fixture in the England team.

I felt our second rows did OK. I really thought after the game I’d get a chance to show everyone in training what I can do, but the coaches felt the pack performed well so they’ve given them all another chance.

Tom Rees handled and matched Ritchie McCaw very well in the game but I think Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Dan Carter all had great games for the All Blacks and they were perhaps the biggest difference between the teams.

After the game the New Zealand team were all out and obviously in good spirits - I chose not to go out as I had to train the next morning so I’ve got no stories for you about any of the All Blacks unfortunately.

Once the second test is over we’ll be saying goodbye to New Zealand and flying back to London, from there its rest and holiday time until next season.

By Nick Kennedy (19th June)

Nick Kennedy is currently with the England squad preparing to play New Zealand. The second test from Christchurch will be screened live on Sky Sports at 8am on Saturday morning.

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