England: Freddie Steward keen not to be star struck when facing the All Blacks

England's Freddie Steward scores during a Test against Japan Credit: Alamy
England's Freddie Steward scores during a Test against Japan Credit: Alamy

England full-back Freddie Steward is eager to tick off one of his bucket list goals when he takes on the All Blacks in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series Test at Twickenham.

After suffering a narrow defeat to Argentina a fortnight ago, Eddie Jones’ troops bounced back with a deserved 52-13 victory over Japan with Steward at the forefront of his team’s onslaught and he was rewarded with the official man-of-the-match award.

Made great strides since last England v New Zealand game

The 21-year-old was an economics student at Loughborough University when England and New Zealand last faced each other at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he will have to put the admiration he has for the All Blacks to one side when the sides face off this weekend.

“As a young lad who’s watched rugby his whole life, the All Blacks are the team you want to play against,” Steward said.

“To be able to face the Haka is just so exciting. I’ll probably need to get over being star struck in the week so that come game-day I’m in a position where I’m ready to perform.

“But it’s important not to get caught up in that aura of their history and their success and just treat it as just another game.

“We’ll work out what we did well against Japan and what we didn’t do well, put it right and put together a plan to beat them.

“We had a point to prove after the Argentina game. We were frustrated with that result.”

Steward shone on attack for England, scoring a well-taken try and he was also involved in the build-up to two five-pointers, and did well in implementing the basics of full-back play.

Jones hailed his maturity, saying that the “only flashiness we’ve seen from him is his ridiculous moustache”.

Steward has also brought a calmness to his game and has been working to enhance his mindset through sessions with psychologists Andrea Furst and Dave Priestley.

“When you’re running out at Twickenham and you have 80,000 fans around you screaming and the ball goes in the air, it’s quite a daunting experience,” he said.

“I’ve done a lot of work on dealing with that and ignoring everything except the ball because that’s all that matters. That’s been the biggest work-on for me.

“It’s that focus. When that ball goes up, that is all that matters. So it’s: ‘where’s the ball going to land, what do I need to do with my timing and my footwork to get there?’ It’s trying not to think about what’s coming – not the next phase, just that ball.

Enjoyed Japan game

“I had a lot of ball against Japan and it’s always nice when things fall your way. I loved every second of being out there.

“I’ve also been working really hard on the physical side of the game – the power, the strength, the speed – and it’s good to see that paying dividends.”

READ MORE: England: Eddie Jones shifts attention to blockbuster Test against the All Blacks next weekend

The article England: Freddie Steward keen not to be star struck when facing the All Blacks appeared first on Planetrugby.com.