Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: England coach to watch Super 15 for clues about likely opponents

England coach Stuart Lancaster hopes to tap into some early knowledge about his likely test opponents during this weekend's round of the Super 15.

If his schedule allows, Lancaster is keen to get to Eden Park to watch how the Blues and Hurricanes play at the venue for the first test with the All Blacks on Saturday next week.

"That's a standout game for us and being in the city it would be obvious we would go to that game," he said.

"You have one eye on your own games because you are thinking about your own selection, dynamics, injuries and everything else that unfolds in any weekend and you have one eye on the opposition players."

Lancaster is on his first trip here as England coach and aware the touring group will be judged against some ordinary behaviour and results from past groups. He would not buy into criticism coming from media columnists such as former coach Clive Woodward that the schedule for this tour was a disaster. It was not ideal but Lancaster had inherited the itinerary when he took over England last year.

"We are not feeling sorry for ourselves because we have got a brilliant tour (three tests and a midweek game with the Crusaders) ahead of us."

In his tour bio, Lancaster said: "I would never go into a test series thinking about the worst possible scenario. I'm a glass-half-full man."

The coach continued that theme throughout his opening press conference in Auckland last night after he and the 30 players who flew in earlier in the day unwound at a light gym session.

Virtually everyone in the squad had played international rugby in the past year and they would be reinforced when another dozen arrived next week after the premiership final. This was a crucial stage in England's launch towards the next World Cup. They had 15 tests before that started and four of those were against the All Blacks here and at Twickenham in November.

England had been in camp for a fortnight working on their broad style, structure and gameplan and Lancaster said they had another week to consolidate those plans ahead of the Eden Park international.

- NZ Herald

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