Steve Borthwick heads for New Zealand in a bid to build on England’s progress

Steve Borthwick heads for New Zealand in a bid to build on England’s progress

Steve Borthwick will begin plotting New Zealand’s downfall this week as he looks to build on England’s encouraging end to the Guinness Six Nations.

A stunning victory over Ireland in round four and agonising near-miss against France in Lyon on Saturday have generated excitement around a team that is now playing their most ambitious rugby for four years.

While finishing third in the table will hardly have set alarm bells ringing in the All Blacks’ camp ahead of the summer tour, the threat posed by England’s attack against two of the best international sides will have been noted.

Borthwick will head to New Zealand for a scouting mission on Monday, accompanied by head of strength and conditioning Aled Walters, who will also continue preparations for the first leg of the tour in Japan.

“I’ve got to go and put plans in place for where we are going to be and how we will do it, so that we prepare properly,” Borthwick said.

“I did Japan just before the start of the Six Nations, with a visit there, and then Aled is going to Japan as well, after New Zealand.

“In a week’s time we will understand exactly where we are going with our training programmes, our locations, our venues, so we give the team the best opportunity to get the result we want.

“I’ll be taking the very best players that are available for selection at that point in time.”

After a humdrum start to the Six Nations, England came alive in the final two rounds by scoring seven tries and only losing to France when Thomas Ramos landed a long-range penalty in the final minute.

George Ford insists the revival was borne out of their deflating nine-point loss to Scotland on February 24, a result that sparked considerable soul-searching due to the high error count.

“Our mindset since the Scotland game has been to really go at teams with the ball in hand,” Sale fly-half Ford said.

“Be a threat, ask questions, fire shots, be that attacking team and be on the front foot a lot more. You have seen that in the last two weeks.

“We had to front that up after Murrayfield. We had to make a choice. It was off the back of that game when we had to have a few honest conversations about things and decide what team we want to be.

“We were putting bits and parts together, but we didn’t have the feeling we’ve had the past two weeks. We’ve probably made a good thing out of a bad there.

“You never want to go through those situations, but when you do you’ve got to learn and come out the other end of them.

“We’re improving and there’s a good base. We still need to improve on that but the penny’s dropped in terms of what type of team we want to be. And how dangerous we can be.

“We all play rugby because we want to score points and want to score tries. You’ve got to do all the other things as well but we’re in a good place now – and we want to get better.”

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