England star: 'There is something about the All Blacks with the Haka'
SPOTLIGHT: Kyle Sinckler said he was “raring to go” in England’s latest “massive occasion” clash with New Zealand.
England take on the Rugby Union superpower at Twickenham on Saturday in what will be a first match against New Zealand since Sinckler featured in a 19-7 2019 World Cup semifinal win in Japan.
This weekend, as is traditional, New Zealand will perform the Haka before kick-off and Sinckler, who lined up in a striking V-shape formation with his England teammates when Eddie Jones’ men confronted the Maori challenge in Yokohama three years ago, is eager for more.
“There is something about the All Blacks with the Haka, the tradition, how much rugby means to New Zealand,” Sinckler told reporters at Twickenham on Friday.
“It [rugby] is literally on 24/7 and it means so much to the country, to the people.”
England have won just eight out of 42 Tests against New Zealand and Sinckler added: “It’s just a massive occasion and it’s a massive honour to be involved in a fixture of this magnitude. I’m just raring to go.”
The 29-year-old said it was important England remained flexible. He cited former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s celebrated comment about the limits of planning.
“I think obviously we’ve prepared. We’ve got a game-plan. But, who knows? You know there’s that saying that everybody’s got a plan until you get hit in the face.
“The beauty of how good the All Blacks are, is you can prepare one way and they can play a totally different way. So we just have to be ready.”
‘Drown out the Haka’
England forwards coach Richard Cockerill, meanwhile, urged England fans at what is set to be a capacity Twickenham crowd of more than 80 000, to “drown out” the Haka.
Cockerill famously confronted All Blacks hooker Norm Hewitt during the Haka in 1997 and believes teams have become too deferential towards a ritual he believes has become “sterile”.
“It’s a home game and we want a partisan crowd who are on our side,” said Cockerill. “If the fans can drown out the noise of New Zealand doing the Haka then let’s bring it on.”
The former Leicester hooker added: “Is it a challenge or not a challenge? We’ll respect it how we want to respect it. It’s a psychological advantage for them and we will deal with it how we feel is right.
“I have no regrets over what I did and I think it’s a sign of respect for the Maori culture. It’s great theatre and it will be part of a big day.
“I think the Haka has become a little bit sterile and too much is made of it when people do different things towards it. That’s overplayed.
“New Zealand are allowed to do what they want to do and the opposition should be allowed to do what they want to do.”