England tour manager Rob Andrew insists all the pressure is on New Zealand heading into Saturday's first Test because the All Blacks have still not shaken their World Cup hangover.
While England have named a new-look team with eyes focused firmly on the future, Andrew feels the All Blacks are still haunted by their World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in Cardiff.
t was New Zealand’s worst-ever performance at the World Cup and many supporters have been angered by the re-appointment of Graham Henry and his coaching staff.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew admitted this week they are battling for the “hearts and minds” of disenchanted supporters.
In defending Henry this week, All Blacks lock Ali Williams once again heaped blame on the performance of English referee Wayne Barnes in the quarter-final.
All of which, Andrew believes, only serves to pile the pressure on New Zealand ahead of the Eden Park clash – and he wants England to take advantage.
“There is no doubt we have moved on from the 2007 World Cup. I am not sure New Zealand have yet,” said Andrew.
“England struggled to get over the hangover of winning a World Cup. It appears New Zealand can’t get over the hangover of losing it, whether it is the coaches talking about it or Ali Williams still going on about Wayne Barnes.
“Wayne is one of the best referees in the world. I would have won a Lions series here 2-0 in 1993 had it not been for a poor refereeing decision from an Australian referee in the third Test when we lost 18-16 – but I haven’t gone on about it.
“I didn’t think Alain Rolland refereed particularly well in the World Cup final quite frankly, but that is life. You move on.
“There is clearly a lot of pressure floating around that looks to be self-inflicted pressure and they have to deal with that.
“As far as we are concerned there is no pressure on the England team at all. We have talked very hard about what we want to achieve, but there has been no pressure put on the players at all.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for them. England have won here just twice in 45 years and we are massive underdogs.
“But we believe if we get things right we have a team that can challenge New Zealand.”