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England 'excited' about All Blacks challenge

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Sportal.co.nz     16 Mar 2014     Getty Images

Speaking after England beat Italy 52-11 to just miss taking out the Six Nations title, Lancaster said: "With other guys coming back from injury we are massively excited about the New Zealand tour which will give us further options to grow as a team.

"I am very proud of what we have achieved over the tournament, both in how this young group has developed and also our intent to play attacking rugby.

"We haven't got everything right in every game, but when you put everything into perspective we have made great progress. Our intent to attack, the quality of our defence and set-piece has been excellent," he said.

England's progress had been 'huge' and could be measured by the 18-11 win over Italy at year ago at Twickenham.

"It's a young team with an average age of 24 so when you put things into perspective I think we've made great progress," he said.

England scored 14 tries in the tournament, seven of them against Italy.

Backs coach Andy Farrell said England would not be lacking confidence in New Zealand.

"There's another challenge coming on and they're certainly looking forward to it, there's no doubt," he said.

"They've improved now and, time and time again when something's put in their way, they rise to the occasion and take it on," he said.

Fullback Mike Brown, who has been one of the side's big improvers in taking the Man of the Match award in three of four games, is favoured to be awarded the player of the championship title. But he was looking forward to the New Zealand tour.

"New Zealand are the number one team in the world and we're going to their backyard. It's a great challenge for us.

"Now that this Six Nations is done and dusted, we're excited about New Zealand. It will be great. We aspire to achieve what they've achieved and to be like them.

"There's a lot of confidence in the squad that we can push New Zealand. We're making strides with our attacking game and can make teams uncomfortable in defence and attack," he said.