RUGBY: Bath's WIlson relishing All Blacks challenge

David Wilson

David Wilson

First published in Sport

BATH prop David Wilson insists England's first Test underdogs are refusing to accept their roles as victims in waiting for world champions New Zealand.

The tourists enter Saturday's series opener at Eden Park without players from Aviva Premiership finalists Northampton and Saracens and hamstrung by an extensive injury list.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster names his team on Wednesday night and is poised to pick those who are third or fourth choice at hooker, fly-half and inside centre.

Arrayed against them will be a vastly experienced All Blacks line-up that won all 14 of their Tests last year and have triumphed in every match at Eden Park since 1994.

But Wilson, who will be making his first start but fifth appearance against New Zealand, is adamant England can cause an upset.

"If you look at the world rankings we'd probably be underdogs, but coming to New Zealand that's to be expected. We'll thrive on that and give it everything," the Bath tighthead said.

"You have to believe you can win every game. It's a big challenge because they're the best team in the world, but we're here to test ourselves against the best leading up to the World Cup.

"We have belief within the camp and what we've done in the past.

"It's a brilliant opportunity for everybody involved. As a schoolboy I used to dream about playing in New Zealand. And here I am.

"You know they're a class act, but they're 15 men and so are we. We did actually beat them two years ago and we can remember that."

In the 27 matches of Lancaster's reign, England have lost by more than nine points on only one occasion - the 30-3 rout by Wales last year.

That spirit will be essential if they are to avoid a morale-draining heavy defeat just one Test into the series, and Wilson outlines the expectation for Saturday.

"We've come here hoping to compete with New Zealand in their own back yard," Wilson said.

"If we're in the game around the 70-75 minute mark when it can go either way, that's where we aim to be."

MORE SPORTS NEWS & PICTURES IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND WILTSHIRE TIMES

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