All Black captain Richie McCaw will be looking for a victory in his first game at Twickenham on Sunday.
“I’ve never played at Twickenham, so this is a first chance. I’m looking forward to that and getting through training next week. It is an exciting ground and with the new stand, there will be even more of an atmosphere,” he said.
McCaw has enjoyed a two-month layoff from competitive rugby after the completion of the Vodacom Tri-Nations in September, and only recently made his comeback with a warm-up game against a New Zealand Heartland side. Feeling rejuvenated, he is keen to start off the All Blacks’ European tour with a big win.
“I’m really excited about this tour and I think that is the result of not playing so much. I’ve done two months of training and want to get onto the field again.
“I can’t wait to play so that is a good thing, that is the way it should be. They [England] play a particular brand of rugby, and they play to their strengths. They are always big and strong, it’s just a tough physical battle.”
Another Crusaders player who will be hoping to get a run at the famed English fortress for the first time is new cap Andy Ellis. The young No 9 has enjoyed a phenomenal season both in the Super 14 and in the New Zealand Cup, and will be looking to get some valuable game time on this tour.
“It’s been quite busy trying to learn all the sequences and moves,” he said. “I’ve got a pretty good feel for it now, it’s a comfortable environment.
“You do feel it’s another step up, more professional, and it’s more intense when you’re at training, as everyone is switched on the whole time.”
Ellis admitted that this experience will be crucial to his development as a Test player, and has been working with backline coach Wayne Smith on fine-tuning aspects of his game to ensure he makes the step up to international rugby successfully.
“Skills like passing and kicking; you can always keep working on those things. There are a lot of technical things with the pass, like weight transfer and different things like that. The list goes on and on of the little things that you don’t really think of that can help your game in big way. It has been enlightening.
“I think in the four weeks we are together, my game will develop quite a bit,” he said.