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Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Saturday, 21 June 2008 17:43 UK

Andrew upbeat despite series loss

RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew
Andrew is determined to keep a positive outlook about the tour

England boss Rob Andrew says the trip to New Zealand has not been a repeat of 1998's "Tour from Hell" despite his side losing the Test series 2-0.

England suffered their second-worst margin of defeat against the All Blacks when they lost 44-12 on Saturday.

The torrid tour has also seen four players accused of sexual assault - an allegation they have all denied.

"We wanted to learn about our younger players and we have learned some really good things," said Andrew.

"We have also learned one or two things about some players we didn't want to learn."

The original "Tour from Hell" was in 1998, when Clive Woodward's understrength England side suffered two drubbings by the All Blacks and heavy defeats against both Australia and South Africa.

Defeat in Christchurch on Saturday - second only to a 64-22 loss on that 1998 trip among English defeats by New Zealand - followed the 37-20 loss in the first Test in Auckland.

But Andrew, the Rugby Football Union elite rugby director who was standing in as tour manager for Martin Johnson, insisted the tour had been a worthwhile exercise ahead of the naming of a 32-man elite squad on 1 July.

"This was certainly not a tour from hell, by any stretch of the imagination," he added.

"We have left probably 10 or 12 players at home who are likely to be in the elite squad. Let's have a look at the guys who have performed creditably over the last few weeks.

"I am sure they will be in the squad."

In the second Test on Saturday, England carved out clear chances in the first half for Tom Varndell and Mathew Tait but they never recovered after going in at half-time 20-0 down.

Although the visitors did score through Danny Care and Varndell, tries from Ma'a Nonu, Sione Lauaki and Jimmy Cowan sealed a comprehensive series victory for New Zealand.

Andrew praised his players' "enormous strength of character" and insisted there were plenty of encouraging signs.

The last two games we've been found wanting against very strong opponents

England skipper Steve Borthwick
"Again the scoreboard does not reflect the whole game," he added. "One of the problems you have against the All Blacks is if you don't take your chances, they will take theirs. They are relentless.

"We should have scored two tries in the first half which would have given us a total of four for the game, a pretty healthy return away from home.

"We chased the game at the end which made the scoreboard worse. That was a bit of naivety from one or two of our younger players but again the spirit was great and you can't complain about the effort that the players have put in.

"I actually thought we played better than we did last week. The balance was much better. We played some good rugby at times and scored two good tries."

Andrew also revealed that full-back Tait was not as badly hurt as first feared when he was carried off after an accidental clash of heads with All Blacks centre Richard Kahui.

"He has a pretty nasty gash on his head," said Andrew. "It was a pretty unfortunate incident. I don't think there was any intent there and it was just a clashing of heads.

"It looked pretty nasty but is not as bad as we initially feared."

Skipper Steve Borthwick reflects on another England defeat
Borthwick led England in the absence of Phil Vickery
England skipper Steve Borthwick admitted his side had been "found wanting" during the series.

"You can have a great week's training but it comes down to the 80 minutes," said the Saracens lock, who blamed a lack of precision despite "outstanding effort".

"The last two games we've been found wanting against very strong opponents. We've got to credit the All Blacks.

"Whenever they saw a try-scoring opportunity, got close to the line, they took those opportunities.

"We had some opportunities in the first half. We didn't take them and ultimately that cost us.

"We were a long way away at half-time. It could have been a lot closer. But I'd like to credit the England boys, the way they stuck at it. We know our precision let us down but it was outstanding effort."

The England squad travel back home on Sunday.

see also
New Zealand 44-12 England
21 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand v England photos
21 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
Barkley anger over England axing
18 Jun 08 |  English
Andrew salutes England's resolve
14 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 37-20 England
14 Jun 08 |  English
McCaw and Palmer set for reunion
11 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 21-11 Ireland
07 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union

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