Saints forward Tom Wood has urged England to prevent their emotions from boiling over in their eagerness to topple New Zealand in Saturday’s second Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Stuart Lancaster’s tourists arrived in Dunedin on Thursday morning bristling with intent to level a series that was launched with a painful 20-15 defeat at Eden Park.
Both sides have claimed they are ready to improve substantially on their first Test performances, but the All Blacks remain overwhelming 1/8 favourites to amass a third successive victory in the fixture.
Wood, restored at blindside flanker after helping Northampton lift the Aviva Premiership title, insists that defeating the world champions requires intelligence and passion in equal measure.
“Emotion is a powerful thing in rugby and when you get it right it’s a huge weapon,” said Wood.
“But it can also completely undo you if you allow it to become completely about vengeance, hatred or anything else.
“If you allow that to overcome you, you’re in trouble.
“Emotion is only a good thing if you channel it correctly and that’s something we’ve learned from big games.
“I always think the bigger the game, the bigger the occasion, the simpler you make it.
“The game hasn’t changed all that much. It’s still about winning good set piece ball, gainline success and developing momentum.
“It’s doing that in the simplest way possible and taking as many variables out of it as possible.
“You like to think that on occasions like this the emotion will be there, the nerves will be there.
“Pre-match there’s a lot of expectation and hype and there’s an opportunity you don’t want to let slip.
“You like to think that emotion is a given, you just need to channel it in the right way.
“For me personally I know it will be there. I have to stay calm and focused.”
England have prevailed in New Zealand on only two previous occasions in 13 attempts - in 1973 and 2003 - and are desperate to land a psychological blow on the All Blacks before next year’s World Cup.
The belief they can yet snatch the series, even when trailing after the first Test, is genuine and Wood has called for the 2014 squad to write their own piece of Red Rose history.
“If we don’t win on Saturday the series will be difficult and the pressure will begin to mount,” Wood said.
“We certainly didn’t come here to lose any games - never mind two on the bounce - and be staring down the barrel of three losses.
“It will be painful and it certainly focuses the mind. We’ll concentrate on levelling the score.
“One of the things we talk about is our legacy and the idea of handing the shirt on in a better place.
“We’re custodians of the shirt, but only for a short period of time.
“We want to fill the shirt with belief and confidence for the next guys, showing them the path so they can walk in an England shirt that bit taller.”