Steve Borthwick ramps up the mind games ahead of England's bid for Eden Park upset of All Blacks

England boss Steve Borthwick has stepped up his efforts to unsettle New Zealand ahead of Saturday’s second Test by insisting they will be burdened by expectation at their Eden Park fortress.

Borthwick has made just one change following the narrow 16-15 defeat in Dunedin by naming Fin Baxter at loosehead prop in place of Joe Marler, who has been ruled out by a foot injury.

And the head coach’s confidence in his team is reflected in his willingness to resume the mind games he started after England fell agonisingly shot in the first of two Tests against the All Blacks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

New Zealand have not lost at Eden Park since France triumphed 23-20 in 1994, a 30-year period that spans 48 matches. It is one of the game’s great unbeaten runs, but Borthwick believes that success comes with baggage.

England head coach Steve Borthwick almost masterminded a win over New Zealand last week. Can he do it at Eden Park on Saturday? (Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)England head coach Steve Borthwick almost masterminded a win over New Zealand last week. Can he do it at Eden Park on Saturday? (Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
England head coach Steve Borthwick almost masterminded a win over New Zealand last week. Can he do it at Eden Park on Saturday? (Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“Eden Park is a stadium packed with history and with memories of great rugby encounters,” said Borthwick.

“We are delighted to be playing there this Saturday in what I anticipate will be another excellent Test encounter.

“New Zealand has a formidable record at this venue, but with that comes the pressure of expectation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It will be interesting to see how New Zealand manages that expectation in front of a full house.”

In a show of faith in the players who let a 15-10 lead slip from their fingertips in the first-half at Forsyth Barr Stadium, England have made just one enforced change following Marler’s early exit.

Baxter replaced his Harlequins team-mate to win his international debut and the 22-year-old rookie made telling contributions, although he was part of an England scrum that was put under pressure by the All Blacks.

He has now been awarded his full Test debut with Bevan Rodd named amongst the replacements as loosehead cover.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rodd’s selection having started the tour opener against Japan and then been omitted from the 23 altogether in Dunedin is the only adjustment to the bench, the Sale Shark providing loosehead cover.

Borthwick has opted against naming Dan Cole in the front row, but the tighthead is poised to become England’s second most capped player.