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, taking part in in an enormous Check collection towards the mighty All Blacks, there could be good cause 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 College, 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 farm. They have cows. It isn’t dairy, simply beef. They do not promote them; they simply eat them!

‘I have not managed to stand up there but. I have not had the time as it’s kind of of a drive. Hopefully I stand up there earlier than I’m going dwelling. 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 supplied an excessive amount of on-field profit. Cunningham-South joked that taking part in for Lincoln College 2nd XV did not permit him to cross on a lot perception concerning the mind-set of the All Blacks. As an alternative, he has been appearing as a tour information and serving to his team-mates look trim. ‘I received the barbers in final week to chop a few of the boys’ hair,’ he stated.

England's Chandler Cunningham-South (left) is enjoying being back in New Zealand where he grew up

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’ College which is seen as arguably the perfect rugby faculty 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 Check

Being again in New Zealand has introduced one important benefit, in comparison with what he has change into used to since relocating to the UK. The next customary 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 not 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 boost his claims to change 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 Check 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 pondering, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” It received me excited to play. It was good.

‘You do Hakas in class, so I received to see a couple of of them. You must study it. There are many completely different Hakas, so I would not know the right way to do the Haka they (All Blacks) did. I knew my faculty Haka. You do it towards 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 pal of hers had been within the stand, sporting England shirts. He additionally had associates watching on TV in different components of New Zealand. The duty this week is to safe as many tickets as he can for the collection finale at Eden Park.

Taking part in in Dunedin, it dawned on him how a lot has modified since his final look in these components. ‘It was bizarre,’ he stated. ‘The day earlier than, I used to be pondering that the final time I performed a recreation in New Zealand, I used to be taking part in for Lincoln College 2nd XV about three years in the past. So issues have modified loads and now I’m taking part in towards the All Blacks. It’s fairly an enormous U-turn, I assume.’

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

The latest addition to his repertoire, which has elevated him into Check rugby, has been lineout prowess. There was a number of exhausting graft and finding out behind the scenes at Quins, in addition to some help and knowledge supplied 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 slim defeat by New Zealand in Saturday’s first Check

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 responsibility 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 robust to study all of the calls. You have to prep for the crew you are taking part in towards and what they will do.

‘You’ve gotten a distinct menu each week, so it’s a must to study quick. There’s a number of stuff happening. Maro (Itoje) has been serving to me loads with the lineout and Steve (Borthwick) is clearly an amazing lineout thoughts. That may be a fairly good crew to be serving to me get higher.’

Regardless of going to highschool close by, Cunningham-South has by no means been to Eden Park earlier than and – true to type – 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 drive of nature. Now they’ve a brand new one.

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