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England want clarity on New Zealand scrums in World Rugby as team to face All Blacks is determined

Pundits such as Telegraph Sport columnist Brian Moore, television commentator David Flatman and Harlequins scrum coach Adam Jones questioned the legality of All Blacks loosehead Ethan De Groot’s move in the first Test, which New Zealand won 16–15 in Dunedin. Moore wrote that “Ethan de Groot illegally went outside Will Stuart and drove straight up”, helping New Zealand to dominate the scrum.

England have since received feedback from World Rugby on the scrum and England head coach Steve Borthwick will speak to referee Nic Berry in a meeting scheduled for tonight to raise his concerns. “What people have said is out there and it’s pretty clear and we’ve had some good feedback from World Rugby about their views on that,” captain Jamie George said. “I think we have every confidence in Nic Berry to make the right decision this weekend.

“Looking back, I think we could have done a better job of getting to the competition faster, but at the same time, we need to control the things we can control. That’s the main thing. We talked about being aggressive, physical, and confrontational in doing that. We need to make sure we do that. Because we’re technically in the front row, there are things we can do to make sure the pictures are clearer, so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Berry was the assistant referee at Forsyth Barr Stadium last week and while Borthwick is careful not to criticise the officiating, he still wants clarity on the scrummaging competition. “We’ll ask him what areas he sees and what his view is going to be on the game this weekend,” Borthwick said. “Obviously, the scrum will be one of the areas we’ll ask his opinion on. We’ll ask Nic Berry’s point of view and obviously set out what we see and have a conversation. We always take that approach with referees.”

When asked about the accusations of illegality levelled at De Groot, All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson replied: “Look, I think we’ve got to be better at some of the pictures. Both sides can have that conversation, right? We’ve worked on that this week.”

Baxter made his debut in the 17th minute of the first Test match at Forsyth Barr Stadium after Marler suffered a foot injury and George said Baxter did not look out of place in the Test arena. “What impressed me was that he took things for granted,” George said. “It’s a difficult situation, we were under pressure when Joe came off and it can be quite daunting coming on at 22. You would think I would just sit back and get through it. He’s committed to it. What impressed me the most was his scrummaging. He’s a very strong lad and he’s got a big future in this game. His work index, the way he moves around the field, was very impressive.”