Although we were disappointed with the loss to South Africa, the performance was better than our previous match against Australia so there were a lot of positives for us to take away. Our forwards stood up to a Springbok pack that is renowned for its size, which was very encouraging and something we want to build on going into this week.
People watching the game will have seen that the conditions were pretty bad. In my position as hooker, having a dry ball is easier to throw in at a line-out than a wet one, but the ball boys towel the water off each time the ball goes into touch. A few years ago some players wore gloves to aid their grip, but nowadays you'll see more of the guys use stick-on spray during the matches.
This weekend we face a huge test against the All Blacks. They're the best team in the world, but we have analysed their game and pinpointed areas that we think we can exploit.
We have a big training schedule on Tuesdays with full contact sessions. The forwards run scrums and line-outs which can get a bit tasty as everyone is vying for the starting shirt. During the drills at the start of the week we'll wear contact suits which reduce the impact of each hit. You look like the Michelin man with all the extra padding, but we want to lessen the chance of injury.
Wednesdays are our day off, so I generally visit home in Kingston which is just down the road from our training base at Pennyhill Park. I'm a big golf fan, so I'll try and get out for a round every fortnight. There's the par three course in the grounds at Pennyhill, although we haven't played there yet. Lee Dickson and Tom Johnson are both golfers, so we might have to get the clubs down at some point for a round.
We're back training on Thursdays, although the ferocity of the contact eases of as we have an eye on the weekend's game. We'll continue to look at the opponent's game and specific areas to target in our team meetings, before the concentration levels are increased on the Friday and morning of the game. There have been positives and negatives to the series this year, but we're all extremely keen to finish on a high with a good performance against New Zealand.
David Paice is representing the England team. For more behind the scenes footage from inside the England camp you can watch the latest episode of O2 Inside Line at www.O2InsideLine.com. To receive alerts to your phone when each episode is released text INSIDE to 61202.
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