Owen Farrell reveals England’s response to the Haka was carefully planned to send a message to New Zealand ahead of the historic Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.
The Red Rose sealed their place in the final with a 19-7 win in what is already being described as one of the nation’s greatest ever performances on a rugby pitch.
And the tone was set before the match began, with Farrell leading England’s response to the All Blacks’ famous and sometimes intimidating routine.
England lined up in a v-shape, with Farrell smirking at the base, breaking from the shoulder-to-shoulder stance with which the Haka is usually received. The look on Farrell’s face has since gone viral on social media.
“We knew we had to be within a radius behind them and we wanted not to just stand there and let them come at us,” said Farrell.
“We wanted to keep a respectful distance and be respectful to that but we didn’t just want to stand in a flat line and let them come at us.”
England then scored a try within the opening two minutes and dominated the reigning champions throughout the clash.
“We talked about it as a team but everything has to get past the boss,” said Mako Vunipola. “He gave us the idea.
“We wanted to be respectful but we wanted to also make sure that they understood that we would be ready for the fight. We knew it would rile them up, it probably felt like we disrespected them.
“We meant no offence by it; we just wanted to let them know that we were ready for the challenge ahead.
“There have been a few times in the past when the All Blacks have done that and blown the opposition away.
“We put accountability on ourselves to back it up and I thought we did.”
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