All Blacks wary of England backlash

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The Independent Online

New Zealand number eight Kieran Read claims the All Blacks are wary of an England side stung by the fierce criticism that has greeted their feeble performances this autumn.

Martin Johnson's injury-ravaged team were well beaten by Australia before edging Argentina for a victory that felt more like defeat they played so poorly.



With New Zealand visiting Twickenham on Saturday, their November series will surely continue to unravel as the world's number one ranked side target an eighth successive triumph in the fixture.



But Read, who has been identified as a future All Black captain, fears there could be a backlash as England attempt to restore some pride.



"Teams that get bagged normally come out and put in a good performance. We have to be wary of that," he said.



"England are going to be up for it on Saturday. It's our job to be ready for a team that is going to come out all fired up.



"There is never an easy time to play England at Twickenham but they will have their backs to the wall.



"They'll be dangerous so it's going to be a good game. They will be fired up and we have to match that. England are going to be putting their bodies on the line."



It has developed into another torrid November for Johnson, who took over last autumn only to watch in horror as England were thrashed by all three Tri-Nations giants.



A year on and the uncomfortable viewing continues, the team reduced to a clueless rabble virtually incapable of threatening the tryline.



But Read, expected to get the nod over Rodney So'oialo on Saturday, is backing Johnson to inspire England to exit a rut that has placed the management team under considerable pressure.



"It's always tough when you pin it all on a coach," he said.



"I don't think it's probably right for Martin, the team's performances are what count at the end of the day.



"Martin can turn it around. As a player, he always kept coming and this week and he's not going to lie down.



"I say that's how he'll be coaching and bringing the guys around."



Keane admits there is little doubt where the main threat will come on Saturday and in a worrying statement for England, insists the All Blacks are looking to put a side to the sword.



"They do base their game on the forwards so we've got to expect that," he said.



"They are going to try to take us on up front and they have a great kicker in Jonny Wilkinson at fly-half, so we have to be wary of that gameplan.



"We've talked about why recently we haven't kicked on after establishing a lead. We want to score a few more points and break the opposition."

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