Flutey ready to face Haka
November 28, 2008
Riki Flutey will be looking for a big performance against the All Blacks at Twickenham © Getty Images
England centre Riki Flutey could be forgiven for a moment of emotion or a mouthed verse of the Haka on Saturday as he lines up opposite the side that it was his childhood dream to play for.
As the All Blacks seek to complete a Grand Slam tour at Twickenham, Flutey will be facing off against players with whom he played at All Blacks youth level, including skipper Richie McCaw, No 8 Rodney So'oialo and hooker Keven Mealamu. Having led the Haka on numerous occasions at youth level, Flutey insists that a Haka of his own on Saturday, similar to that performed by Munster's Kiwi contingent, is not in his game-plan.
"It would be inappropriate to do a Haka against the All Blacks," he said. "I do know the words to God Save the Queen and I'll sing it loud and proud. In the back of my mind I might be humming the national anthem (of New Zealand) but I'm part of this culture now.
"I'm excited. It is a big moment for me. When I was in New Zealand I didn't take the opportunities I had. Playing over here week in and week out has really helped my game and to get this opportunity is fantastic."
Flutey's career in New Zealand saw him represent the Hurricanes in the Super 14 as well as New Zealand U21 and Maori, but he could never make the final step into international rugby, perhaps due to his status as a utility back.
He will need to use all of his experience and defensive ability if he is to stop rampaging opposite number Ma'a Nonu and limit the space given to the dangerous All Blacks back-line. Having tasted two heavy defeats in his three caps, Flutey is in no mood to taste a fourth. He said, "We were very disappointed with the South Africa result. We have to learn from mistakes and trust the systems we have in place here. In the Australia game I thought I made some good go-forward opportunities but there is a lot of room for a better individual performance from myself.
"You need quick ball to play off. In terms of breaking the line and scoring the try it hasn't come off for me but it is about having patience when we do go forward, not trying to push the pass."
Flutey will line up outside Leicester's Toby Flood this weekend following Wasps team-mate Danny Cipriani's omission from the squad, and he will be hoping for a quick start to their playing relationship if England are to compete. On paper, the chances of Flutey shocking his former team-mates are not good, especially following the last fortnight's troubles and two heavy defeats to New Zealand on tour over the summer.
Flutey is optimistic, hovever, "We have guys who were really disappointed in their performances when they went down to New Zealand," he said. "A lot of those guys will want to put that right."