England face daunting 2012 autumn series


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The Independent Online

England will face Fiji, Australia, South Africa and the world champions New Zealand in the 2012 autumn internationals at Twickenham.

The opening Test will be against Fiji on Saturday 10 November, before the hosts face the Wallabies on 17 November and Springboks a week later. The series concludes against the All Blacks on 1 December.

"These Tests are a massive challenge," said the England No 8 Nick Easter yesterday. "The southern hemisphere has set the benchmark over the years. We know that they hold dominance so it is always good to pit yourself against them."

England will now play the Springboks four times in 2012 after a three-Test tour to South Africa next summer.

New Zealand will play on English soil for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at Eden Park last month.

The All Blacks and Bath fly-half Stephen Donald added: "The North v South rivalry is unique and always gives the big battles in every area of the park. Twickenham is a stadium steeped in history and playing England in their own backyard is a huge fixture to look forward to."

In their last autumn series at Twickenham in 2010, England were beaten by New Zealand (16-26) and South Africa (11-21) either side of a memorable 35-18 victory over Australia, and a 26-13 win over Samoa.

They have lost their last nine Tests against the All Blacks going back to 2003, and their last seven against the Springboks, their last win coming in November 2006.

England have won their last two Tests against the Wallabies, and all four against Fiji, whom they last played at the 1999 World Cup, winning 45-24 at Twickenham.

England's next game is their Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on 4 February.