Number 8 Ben Morgan will make his 21st Test appearance for England when he lines up against world champions New Zealand in the first Test at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.
Before jumping on the plane down under, the 25-year-old told us about why he’s looking forward to taking on the All Blacks on their home patch…
Switching to tour mode at the end of a long season isn’t too difficult. To be honest, you have to be able to switch very quickly or you can get left behind.
We’ve not had the best of seasons at Gloucester so, for me, it’s an opportunity to finish the season on a high. It’s still very hard work but the change of environment can be quite refreshing.
Talking of being refreshed, nothing gets you up for a match quite like facing a full-blooded Haka from the All Blacks. If that doesn’t get you fired up as a rugby player then nothing will!
As a member of the opposition you’ve got the best seat in the house. It’s great to see that passion and it definitely adds a bit of spice.
But you have to use that extra thinking time wisely. You go through the process of the first collisions, the first carries and so on, and by the end of it you’re even more eager to get stuck in.
For us as an England side, there’s no question that we take a lot of confidence from our 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham in 2012. To have that memory gives us confidence that we’re developing and on the path that we want to be.
So what went right that day? The detail was absolutely spot on and that is crucial. We talk as a team about those little 1% or 2% differences and on the day everyone was right on point.
For New Zealand it was probably a bit of a jolt. However, they went unbeaten the following season so there’s definitely been a reaction.
We’re totally focused on beating the All Blacks in a Test series away from home. But away from the pitch and training ground, from the hotel and airport lounge, the modern-day rugby tour still has some space for experiencing the country and culture you’re visiting.
As rugby players we’re in a privileged position where we’re travelling around the world so it’s up to us to make the most of it.
Personally, I’d like to learn more about Maori culture and we’ll be doing some coaching in schools and local rugby clubs. We’ve done it on previous tours and it’s great giving back to the game. I’m really looking forward to it.
Get behind-the-scenes news from Ben Morgan and his England team-mates on tour in New Zealand with Player Diary from O2 in partnership with England Rugby, at www.O2InsideLine.com