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England 14:30 New Zealand

Oliver slams greedy England

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 31/10/06 10:19am

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International match, Twickenham, Sunday November 5, 3.30pm

New Zealand hooker Anton Oliver claims 'arrogance' is to blame for England's current failings on the international stage.

England have endured a miserable 2006 to date, losing their last three Six Nations matches before receiving two thumpings from Australia during the summer.

Oliver, who is expected to get the nod ahead of Keven Mealamu for Sunday's Twickenham showdown, believes Andy Robinson's men suffer from unreasonable expectations placed upon them by an 'arrogant' home crowd.

The All Blacks veteran, who is one cap away from a half century, insists English supporters and press members still place their country above New Zealand due to past attitudes towards the colonials.

Having seen the Southern Hemisphere dominate international rugby either side of England's 2003 World Cup triumph, Oliver cannot understand the air of superiority that still surrounds English rugby, and he is adamant that it affects the players.

"Twickenham is one of the ultimate arenas," he conceded in the Guardian.

"It's the arrogance and hubris of the English crowd. After we beat them there last year, when you read the papers the next day you'd have thought that they had won the game.

"It's not the England players at all, who actually get quite embarrassed about it."

Oliver's comments follow Ireland stand-off Ronan O'Gara's recent revelations, in which he stated his belief that Irish rugby had surpassed its English counterpart in all but television rights.

O'Gara hinted that England's apparent expectation to win gives opposition all the motivation they need, and Oliver agrees.

"It's that kind of blind ignorance and arrogance that really gets up the noses of Australians and New Zealanders," he continued.

"We are all basically a large penal colony down here and we've got no right to assert any dominance in world rugby.

"I gave friends some tickets for Twickenham last year, and they were shocked at the level of opprobrium aimed at our players."

England boss Andy Robinson has named two debutants, Anthony Allen and Shaun Perry, for Sunday's clash, which is expected to played in front of 82,000 fans as Twickenham opens its new stand.

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