Graham Rowntree: England to draw on spirit of 2003 against New Zealand
Last Updated: 02/06/14 5:01pm
England will draw on memories of one of their finest hours when they bid to defy the odds and beat New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
Eleven years ago Martin Johnson's side completed only the nation's second victory on Kiwi soil by humbling the All Blacks 15-13 in Wellington.
Forwards coach Graham Rowntree was involved that night as England emerged triumphant despite playing nearly nine minutes of the second half with Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back in the sin-bin.
The 2014 tourists have been given little hope of denying New Zealand a 15th successive victory as they enter the series opener without players from Aviva Premiership finalists Northampton and Saracens and with a lengthy injury list.
But Rowntree insists the 2003 success was founded on the same brand of indomitable spirit that will be necessary at Eden this weekend.
"It's been referenced a lot that victory in Wellington. It was a special night and it's a case of having self-belief," he said.
"That's what it took that night - an incredible amount of self-belief.
"We all know how good this team we're playing are, but we've come here full of enthusiasm and self-belief.
"My over-riding reflection of that game 11 years ago was our self-belief and hanging in there. We just stuck in there.
"We were down to six men in a scrum on our own goalline in one period because we had Lawrence and Neil in the sin-bin - cheers for that.
"It's hard enough with a full deck of cards against the All Blacks, never mind being down to six.
"We were hanging on for dear life, but that's rugby. Digging in when you're facing adversity.
"That was a significant win for that group of players, who went on to win the World Cup.
"It was a stepping stone and that's what this is for this group of young players.
"Pitching yourself against the best at Eden Park - it doesn't get any better or harder than that."
Watch England take on New Zealand in the first Test live on Sky Sports 1 at 8am on Saturday.