New Zealand are showing signs of improvement, reveals Michael Maguire

Drew Darbyshire

New Zealand coach Michael Maguire thinks his side have come on leaps and bounds since their Denver defeat.

The Kiwis were comfortably beaten 36-18 by England in Denver back in June and have lost the first two of their three-match Test series against the Lions this autumn, with the final Test still to play next weekend.

New Zealand were downed 20-14 by England at Anfield on Sunday and even though they have lost two out of two so far, Maguire believes his side are showing great strides of improvement.

He said: “I guess we are not seeing that improvement through the results but the way the boys have applied themselves and their ability, they are lengths ahead of where they were.

“We are finding the people who want to build what the Kiwi jersey is about. There is a lot of hurt in the changing room but we need to use that now to build us into a force.

“The playing group is constantly working to be better and unfortunately, we haven’t got our reward tonight. We learned some harsh lessons about what Test football is all about. The group need to take accountability of how we turn that around.

“Every Test match is important and the players know that. It is tough to take with the position we are in but it will define us as a group. It is all about what we can do as a group and about how we turn it around. Next week is a big game because it is a Test match.”

Maguire, who spent two years in England with Super League side Wigan Warriors in 2010 and 2011, admitted that England have established themselves as one of the best teams in the world thanks to their simple but effective style of play.

He added: “England have got a very simple gameplan in that they keep hanging around.

“They complete and they defend, and they do the simple things well and they are one of the teams at the top of international footy.

“England have been performing like that for some time. They complete high and get stuck in for the 80 minutes and that is something we need to pick up on because we conceded a try at the back end of both halves.

“England were very clinical and they completed high and they are the kind of differences in Test match footy. You have got the best of each country playing and you need to understand that each play is so important and our players are learning.”

New Zealand face England in the final game of the series at Elland Road next Sunday.