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Friday, November 05, 2010

Austin Healey shares his thoughts as we get closer to kickoff

Austin Healey shares his thoughts as we get closer to kickoff

One of the true characters of the game, former England back Austin Healey was kind enough to share a few thoughts with Rugbydump ahead of a big month for Test rugby up north. This is what he had to say.

RD: Your thoughts on the game England vs New Zealand game this weekend?
AH: England rugby matches obviously dont get any bigger or better than this. New Zealand in front of a sold out Twickenham? I think the fans are in for a real treat.

This could be the start of something special for England. If we win, people will be talking up our chances of winning the World Cup next year. But if we get hammered, many will say were back to square one. Regardless, if we see England players displaying the three Es Excitement, Emotion and Endeavour I think we will have a good Saturday whichever way the result goes.

Will law interpretations affect the Investec Internationals this autumn?
I think its time that people stopped using the law interpretations from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere as an excuse. We should just get on with it and let the game flow.

Nowadays, the players are good at interpreting which way the referee is going to play the game from his decisions in the first 10 minutes, so I dont really see it being an issue in these four matches.

Your ideal Englands halfback combination come World Cup kick off time?
The World Cup is still a long time away and there are lots of players pushing to be in the team. All of these players will be seeking to put down a marker in the Investec Internationals, so it will be interesting to see how the contenders perform.

I think the RBS 6 Nations next year will be key to deciding who is on the plane to New Zealand, however, they will be coming up against some big, physical sides in these next few weeks so Martin Johnson and his team will be keen to see the players can take the physical battle now.

In light of some of the citings and suspensions weve seen this year, is rugby becoming over policed, ie: soft?
There is absolutely no way that rugby is becoming 'soft'. You only have to look at the number of recent retirements due to injury to see that it is now a more physical game than ever.

In terms of the game becoming over-policed - no, I dont think it is being, but I would like to see more common sense being used when dishing out punishments. For example, if a player throws a punch at someone and misses, dont ban them for six weeks. But if a player throws a punch and it cuts an opponent so he requires stitches, I think a ban is justified. The punishment needs to fit the crime.

Do you expect another surprise package at the 2011 World Cup, as we saw with Argentina in 2007?
No, I dont expect there to be any other surprise packages at this years World Cup. Argentina are due to join the Tri-Nations in 2012, so I dont think you can call a potential Tri-Nations team a surprise package anymore.

However, I would say keep an eye out for the emergence of Russia as a rugby nation at the World Cup and over the next few years!

What is O2 Inside Line all about?
O2 Inside Line is all about getting the sport of rugby exposed to the general public and breaking down the barriers for fans to get an insight into the England team.

Rugby has traditionally been a very protected sport, so were seeking to give both die hard and casual rugby fans access to the England team in a more irreverent way. Were going to show them the funny side of things that people generally dont get to see!

You can now watch the first episode of O2 Inside Line below

To get the inside scope on the squad, as well as fun features, match analysis and up to the minute player interviews with presenters Austin Healey and Abi Griffiths, watch the latest episode of O2 Inside Line on RFU TV at www.rfu.com/o2insideline

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