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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Woodward issues Maori warning
New Zealand Maori recently defeated Tonga 47-12
New Zealand Maori recently defeated Tonga 47-12
England coach Clive Woodward has admitted he is expecting "Test match" opposition when his side run out against New Zealand Maori on Monday.

England will use the match as a valuable warm-up ahead of the one-off international against the full All Black side on 14 June.

Woodward says he is expecting a tough ride when the two sides meet in New Plymouth.

"I don't know how many All Blacks are in the (Maori) side - seven or eight," Woodward said.

"We're certainly approaching it like a Test match, just as we do when we play Ireland or any other international side at home."

The Maori team comfortably beat an under-strength Tonga 47-12 last weekend and have established an enviable record against touring sides in recent years.

"I watched the game they played against Tonga and they (the Maori) are a good team," he said.

ENGLAND SCHEDULE
9 June: NZ Maori (N Plymouth)
14 June: NZ (Wellington)
21 June: AUS (Melbourne)
23 Aug: Wales (Cardiff)
30 Aug: France (Marseille)
6 Sep: France (Twickenham)
"They have tremendous players and we are delighted that we've taken on this fixture."

Woodward said he would probably leave captain Martin Johnson and fly-half Jonny Wilkinson out of the 22-man squad to play the Maori.

He also refused to be drawn on the Rugby World Cup which starts in October.

"The World Cup will take care of itself," Woodwards said. "We will start thinking about the World Cup when we get back (to England).

"I still think that when and if Australia get their players together, they would be the best side in the world."

England, ranked number one in the world, have only won once in New Zealand, 16-10 in Auckland in 1973, but beat the All Blacks at Twickenham last November 31-28.

New Zealand will also meet Wales on 21 June, and France on 28 June as part of their build-up to this year's Tri-Nations tournament with Australia and South Africa.




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