England v New Zealand: Joe Launchbury says facing All Blacks is 'the ultimate challenge'
Last Updated: 03/06/14 9:33am
England lock Joe Launchbury says taking on world champions New Zealand away from home for three weekends in a row is the "ultimate challenge".
Launchbury's comments chime with the views of former England centre and Sky Sports pundit Will Greenwood, who said the achievement of beating New Zealand on Kiwi soil in 2003 was the greatest achievement of his career - surpassing even the World Cup win a few months later.
"It's the ultimate challenge to come over here and play a three-Test series against New Zealand," said Launchbury.
"We're aware of that and have been training with a slightly different group of players, but we're excited about the weekend."
England's task has been made all the more difficult by the makeshift nature of the side they will have to field in the first Test at Eden Park with several players unavailable through injury, while players from Premiership finalists Saracens and Northampton will not be considered until the second Test.
Stuart Lancaster's side beat the All Blacks 38-21 with a stunning performance in 2012, and pushed the No 1-ranked side in the world close last year before losing 30-22 at Twickenham.
"The way we have played against New Zealand in the last two matches has to give us confidence, but so too do our more recent games because we really came on during the Six Nations," said the Wasps lock.
"After a shaky start we built really well and brought on our attacking game, but the next step now is to continue improving.
"We scored a few more tries in the Six Nations and hopefully that side of our game will continue."
New Zealand will be without number eight Keiran Read, with the IRB world player of the year suffering from the after-effects of concussion and Launchbury said he would be a significant loss to the Kiwis.
"Kieran has had a fantastic season and has been named player of the year for all the right reasons," he said.