IRB Junior World Championship: Nick Walshe thinks England can upet New Zealand
Nick Walshe believes England's youngsters can upset New Zealand in the IRB Junior World Championship in France.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 18/06/13 10:08am
England booked their place in the semi-finals in France after progressing from their group, beating the likes of France and the United States although they did lose to South Africa.
However, up next are the junior All Blacks, a team England have never beaten. They met in the 2011 final where New Zealand ran out 33-22 winners.
England's current crop of youngsters have the chance to make history, but Walshe insists that avenging their loss in the final two years' ago is not on the agenda.
He said: "To be honest, it's a totally different group. I wasn't involved, none of these guys were involved - there were some management people involved but no, we're not avenging any previous defeat.
"I know England have never beaten New Zealand in this competition but we're just going out to try and win a game of rugby and we want to beat New Zealand because we want to progress.
"If you start looking too deeply into those kind of things people are distracted and we just want to concentrate on what we're doing.
"So we'll give it everything that we can and we'll just be focusing on this group for the reasons that we, obviously, want to win the game and not for any previous reasons but because we want to continue in the competition.
"We're playing New Zealand, we obviously respect them absolutely hugely, and we just want to go and have a good game against them and try and perform well.
"Traditionally they a good side, in that they are good at moving the ball to the space, to weak areas in your defence so they've got good ball-handlers, they've got some quick, strong backs. They've got a very dynamic forward pack.
"They're a pretty good side, well, a very good side. So we're going to have to be very switched on from the minute go. We're going to have to defend well when they've got the ball but we really want to have a crack at them when we have the ball and show them that we can play a bit of rugby as well."Looking at the tournament so far Walshe has been pleased with his charges, stating performances have been decent.
"To be honest, I think we've performed really well. We started off with quite a controlled first off performance against France, which was really pleasing," he continued.
"It's always difficult first game of the tournament and we were chucked in the deep end, really, playing against the hosts in their home country. But I thought we controlled the game very well.
"Then moving to South Africa, apart from the first 20 minutes, where we, for whatever reason, a few bits by us and few decisions that didn't go our way, we couldn't get into it in the first 20. But after that I thought we performed extremely well and were the better side against South Africa. I think if the game had gone on a little bit longer, that little bit extra time, we'd have got the score and maybe a win. So I was very please after 20 minutes.
"And then America, USA, was again a fantastic performance. I know America weren't the best opposition but you still have to score the tries, you still have to be clinical and professional about what you do and I thought the boys were so to score 109 points and set two new world championship records - I think it was a fantastic performance so yeah, I'm really pleased with the performances."
Captain Jack Clifford has been a leading light for England, although Walshe insists that success is the goal for the team and not individual performances that could lead to a call-up by head coach Stuart Lancaster.
"Jack Clifford - he's playing very, very good. He leads the team very well, off the field and on the field, he leads by the way he plays. So I'm very pleased with the way Jack is playing," he continued.
"I'm hoping he keeps playing well, just for him because it's a good shop window for all players at this level to show what they can do and he's definitely one of the top performers in this junior World Championship.
"We don't really want to focus on the individuals because we've had a massive focus on a team ethic. It's not just the XV that go out on the field, it's all the 28 players, all the management, all the people who put in so much hard work for this team to try and perform well.
"So we'll look at the individuals when we get back and see who Stuart wants to move up to the next level at this stage. We just want to focus on being this team, everybody playing a part."