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New Zealand

Brown boost for England

22nd May 2014 16:55

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Good to go: Mike Brown

England received some good news ahead of their troubled tour of New Zealand when full-back Mike Brown declared himself fit for the first Test against the world champion All Blacks on June 7.

With Bath fly-half George Ford set to miss the tour because of shoulder surgery and first choice number 10 Owen Farrell one of several players who will be unavailable for the tour opener because of their participation in next weekend's Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton, England coach Stuart Lancaster is facing a number of selection headaches.

But he had a boost when Brown, the player of the tournament in this season's Six Nations, said he was confident of being fit after suffering a hip injury during Harlequins' Premiership semi-final defeat by Saracens on Saturday.

"It's a deep hip muscle injury," said Brown, winner of England player of the year at the Rugby Players' Association awards dinner on Wednesday.

"I gave everything a big yank when I was twisted in the tackle on that turf. I overstretched it all.

"It's feeling good each day. A bit more recovery and on Monday I'll be ready to rock and roll in training. It's definitely looking good for that first Test.

"I've had the same problem before after tough games, but to a lesser extent, so I know how to get rid of it and what I need to do.

"I've got great people around me to help me get fit and I can't wait to get out to New Zealand."

In addition to the absence of the Premiership finalists, England also have an injury crisis at hooker.

Tom Youngs is not touring because of his wife's illness, while New Zealand born Dylan Hartley and Tob Webber have shoulder and knee injuries respectively.

Meanwhile British and Irish Lions forwards Alex Corbisiero and Tom Croft have been told to rest after only recently returning from long-term injuries, with wing Jack Nowell and prop Dan Cole receiving treatment.

England already faced a daunting task in trying to win a first series in New Zealand, having won just twice there in 12 attempts dating back to 1963, their rare successes on Kiwi soil coming in 1973 and their World Cup-winning year of 2003.

Nevertheless, Brown said he had every faith 2015 World Cup hosts England could record what would be a memorable series victory.

"I don't see why we can't win this series. We've put in two good performances against New Zealand, beaten them once and narrowly lost once," he said of England's most recent clashes with the All Blacks.

"It will be unbelievably tough playing the number one team on their home patch.

"They'll come flying into us and the fact we're missing a few guys for that first Test makes it even harder for us.

"But there are guys who will come in and will be desperate to show what they can do in an England shirt."

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