Joseph confident NZ can match England up front

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NZPA     22 Jun 2010     Getty Images

The set pieces are a traditional English strength and Joseph today had scrum guru Mike Cron on hand to dispense advice during a training session at the Taradale club.

"Yes we can," he said of his pack's ability to go toe-to-toe with the opposition.

"It's clearly an area where they have put a lot of emphasis and where they get their confidence from, and we've done the same."

The fixture at McLean Park is the last in the Maori team's three-match centenary series and they will be looking for a clean sweep, after sneaking past both the New Zealand Barbarians and Ireland.

Joseph has made two personnel changes to his starting 15, with Hawke's Bay players Clint Newland and Karl Lowe the new inclusions.

Newland replaces Bronson Murray at loosehead prop, while Lowe, whose second- half try against Ireland at Rotorua last Friday finished off a spectacular 90m attack, comes in at blindside flanker for No 8 Colin Bourke in a reshuffled loose trio.

Joseph said the pair were not hometown selections.
Instead, he had taken into account both ability and the short turnaround since the 31-28 win over Ireland.

England arrived in New Zealand on the back of a 21-20 victory in their second test over Australia in Sydney last Saturday, a result that drew the series 1-1.

They have sent the bulk of their test side home, and the 28-man squad in Napier contain only six players who started in the match in Sydney.

Among those who didn't make the trip across the Tasman is former Kiwis rugby league representative Shontayne Hape.

However, another player with strong New Zealand connections did travel -- Palmerston North-born No 8 Dan Ward-Smith, a former Maori Colt.

Whether Ward-Smith gets to face New Zealand Maori will be known tomorrow when England coach Martin Johnson names his line-up.

While New Zealand Maori will face a different looking side than the one who fronted against the Wallabies, Joseph is sure that the whole England camp will have been lifted by the result in the second test.

He also said the players Johnson would field against the Maori team would have the added motivation of wanting to make an impression, with next year's World Cup in mind.

Meanwhile, Johnson said many people might classify the encounter as being between the English set piece and Maori flair.

But he added that the Maori had shown their ability up front.

"They don't give you a lot of shots at the lineout," he said.

"You have to be pretty good at getting back out of your half or that ball will come back at you.

"You have to make your tackles and be pretty aggressive defensively as well at turnover ball."

Many of the Maori players were familiar to Johnson and his coaching staff, and he cited the likes of former Sale back Luke McAlister, fellow All Black Hosea Gear on the wing, centre Dwayne Sweeney and first five-eighth Stephen Brett.

"The whole backline is pretty dangerous," he said.
"If you give them counterattack ball, they know what to do."

He drew lessons for England from their series against the Wallabies.

"A lot like the first test, if we let teams play, they will look good and score on you," he said.
"If we get pressure on them and not let them play, then we put ourselves in with a chance."