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England’s New Zealand-raised rising star Chandler Cunningham-South on being a tour information to his team-mates, what it was like dealing with the Haka – and his cravings for some post-match KFC!

Earlier than he arrives to debate his homecoming, Chandler Cunningham-South wanders previous sporting sandals, alongside a hall in England’s lodge right here, casually bouncing a tennis ball off the ground.

Let’s simply say that the rookie Harlequins flanker does not convey the impression of getting the load of the world on his shoulders. As a first-time vacationer, again within the nation the place he grew up, enjoying in an enormous Take a look at collection in opposition to the mighty All Blacks, there can be good purpose for the 21-year-old to be overawed. However he is not – not within the least.

Cunningham-South is in acquainted territory. He spent a few years at Westlake Boys Excessive Faculty, north of this busy metropolis, within the suburb of Takapuna. His English mother and father, Caroline and Richard, stay an hour additional north once more, in Wellsford. ‘My mum is a nurse and my dad works a bit on the farm,’ stated Chandler. ‘It is a bit of farm. They have cows. It is not dairy, simply beef. They do not promote them; they only eat them!

‘I have never managed to rise up there but. I have never had the time as it’s kind of of a drive. Hopefully I rise up there earlier than I’m going residence. They’re approaching Saturday. Mum got here down to the sport in Dunedin, which was good. It is good to have some help.’

It is also been good to have native data, though it hasn’t offered an excessive amount of on-field profit. Cunningham-South joked that enjoying for Lincoln College 2nd XV did not permit him to cross on a lot perception concerning the mind-set of the All Blacks. As a substitute, he has been appearing as a tour information and serving to his team-mates look trim. ‘I obtained the barbers in final week to chop among the boys’ hair,’ he stated.

England’s Chandler Cunningham-South (left) is having fun with being again in New Zealand the place he grew up

The 21-year-old was born in Kent but his family moved to New Zealand at the age of four

The 21-year-old was born in Kent however his household moved to New Zealand on the age of 4

Cunningham-South (centre back row) went to Hamilton Boys¿ School which is seen as arguably the best rugby school in New Zealand

Cunningham-South (centre again row) went to Hamilton Boys’ Faculty which is seen as arguably the most effective rugby college in New Zealand

Cunningham-South joked he had brought in some barbers to cut his team-mates' hair before the second Test

Cunningham-South joked he had introduced in some barbers to chop his team-mates’ hair earlier than the second Take a look at

Being again in New Zealand has introduced one vital benefit, in comparison with what he has develop into used to since relocating to the UK. A better commonplace of fried rooster. ‘The KFC is best right here,’ he stated, laughing. ‘Simply go and style it. The chips are higher, the wings are higher. I have never had any but, I’m ready until Sunday after the sport and I will deal with myself to a kind of!’

It is a fascinating and momentous expertise for Cunningham-South. In a sporting sense, he’s persevering with to reinforce his claims to develop into the long-term blindside successor to Courtney Lawes within the England pack. And on a private stage, he’s on a visit down reminiscence lane; returning to a rugby tradition that he left behind to take up a spot on the London Irish academy.

Going through the Haka earlier than the primary Take a look at in Dunedin final Saturday was a reminder of his personal involvement within the pre-match ritual years in the past. ‘It was an superior factor to be part of,’ he stated. ‘I used to be simply considering, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” It obtained me excited to play. It was good.

‘You do Hakas at school, so I obtained to see just a few of them. You must be taught it. There are many completely different Hakas, so I would not know tips on how to do the Haka they (All Blacks) did. I knew my college Haka. You do it in opposition to one another – you face off. It was cool to be in entrance of that on Saturday.’

For the match at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Cunningham-South’s mum and a good friend of hers had been within the stand, sporting England shirts. He additionally had associates watching on TV in different elements of New Zealand. The duty this week is to safe as many tickets as he can for the collection finale at Eden Park.

Enjoying in Dunedin, it dawned on him how a lot has modified since his final look in these elements. ‘It was bizarre,’ he stated. ‘The day earlier than, I used to be considering that the final time I performed a recreation in New Zealand, I used to be enjoying for Lincoln College 2nd XV about three years in the past. So issues have modified quite a bit and now I’m enjoying in opposition to the All Blacks. It’s fairly a giant U-turn, I suppose.’

It has been fairly the transformation, since he despatched match footage to golf equipment all over the world and Irish gained a multi-national tussle for his companies. The Exiles added professionalism to uncooked potential, there have been mortgage appearances for Esher after which a fast call-up to the England Beneath 20s. Cunningham-South has barely seemed again since.

The latest addition to his repertoire, which has elevated him into Take a look at rugby, has been lineout prowess. There was a whole lot of exhausting graft and learning behind the scenes at Quins, in addition to some help and knowledge offered throughout the England set-up.

Steve Borthwick's side are looking to avenge their narrow defeat by New Zealand in Saturday's first Test

Steve Borthwick’s aspect need to avenge their slender defeat by New Zealand in Saturday’s first Take a look at

Cunningham-South has developed his skillset since returning to England - including lineouts

Cunningham-South has developed his skillset since returning to England – together with lineouts

Courtney Lawes retired from international duty after the end of England's Rugby World Cup campaign

Courtney Lawes retired from worldwide obligation after the top of England’s Rugby World Cup marketing campaign

‘It is my first season correctly leaping within the lineout,’ he stated. ‘It is powerful to be taught all of the calls. You have to prep for the group you are enjoying in opposition to and what they’ll do.

‘You’ve got a unique menu each week, so it’s important to be taught quick. There’s a whole lot of stuff occurring. Maro (Itoje) has been serving to me quite a bit with the lineout and Steve (Borthwick) is clearly an awesome lineout thoughts. That could be a fairly good group to be serving to me get higher.’

Regardless of going to high school close by, Cunningham-South has by no means been to Eden Park earlier than and – true to kind – the prospect does not faze him in any respect. ‘It will be cool,’ he stated, of the venue the place the All Blacks haven’t misplaced for 3 a long time.

Moments later, Cunningham-South was off, in his sandals; an image of calm. When Lawes retired, England misplaced a formidable, laid-back pressure of nature. Now they’ve a brand new one.

Jamal Ahmed
Jamal Ahmed
Jamal Ahmed is a dedicated sports journalist covering baseball and rugby. Jamal’s player profiles and game analyses are widely appreciated by readers. He enjoys playing rugby with his local club and organizing community baseball events.


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