"Very special to be here" - England wing Manny Feyi-Waboso 'relishing' chance to beat All Blacks in their own back yard - Ruck

“Very special to be here” – England wing Manny Feyi-Waboso ‘relishing’ chance to beat All Blacks in their own back yard

England wing Manny Feyi-Waboso is ready to take on the All Blacks this Saturday, and would relish the opportunity to be apart of Steve Borthwick’s side. The Exeter Chiefs wing recognises how it is a rare opportunity to take on the All Blacks in their back yard, and described the chance to defeat Scott Robertson’s new side as ‘very special’.

“The matches don’t happen often, it’s very special to be here. Obviously New Zealand are like, one of the best rugby countries, they have a pedigree of just pumping amazing players, out in New Zealand. It’s always good to play against such great teams and such great players.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“It makes you see the weaknesses in your game more or the strengths and there’s what you can learn from them as well. Yeah, it’s very special and like you said, it doesn’t come around often so I’m relishing the opportunity, if I get to play. “

“I think just playing against the All Blacks is like I said, a massive thing, a very special thing. Would be nice to come away with a win. But against the good side, you don’t need any more motivation, they are a great team.”

England are currently preparing for the All Blacks in the North Island city of Auckland, yet will fly down to Dunedin this week for the first Test match. Feyi-Waboso’s England and Exeter teammate Ethan Roots is a local of the area, as the New Zealand born back-row returned to his former provincial club to run through the plays with Steve Borthwick’s side.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“Yeah, they spoke about their time (In New Zealand). Well, I’ve only really spoken to Rootsy about it. He. We were actually training at his old club (North Harbour). It’s pretty cool. So yeah, it’s pretty cool. He was saying how it’s crazy being back here and stuff. It’s nice. His family’s over here.”

The opening fixture will take place in the home of the Highlanders Super Rugby side, with Forsyth Barr’s indoor stadium set to enclose a blockbuster encounter between the two rugby heavyweights. Feyi-Waboso is hoping to be selected for the first Test, with Steve Borthwick set to name the squad later this week.

The wing was in fine form for the Summer series opener against Japan, as he crossed over for a try against Eddie Jones’ side, as England built an impressive lead. One of the stand out partnerships from the England win over the Brave Blossoms was Feyi-Waboso’s telepathic collaboration with Exeter Chiefs teammate Henry Slade.

Henry Slade of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

The young wing could not overstate how pivotal the playmaker has been to his Chiefs career, and was full of praise for the most senior member of the English back-line. Speaking in yesterday’s England media press conference in Auckland, Feyi-Waboso expressed how Slade is living up to his title as the 2024 Premiership Player of the Year.

“I think teaching me the ropes is the right words. With whatever, or everything that I’ve done this season, it has definitely been as a result of him. I feel like all my best performances, I’ve been playing with him, and he gives me advice on the pitch and off the pitch. I feel like I can always talk to him. Whatever his advice is, it’s always good advice. Especially on the rugby pitch.”

“I’ve been with him the whole of this year, and it’s been amazing. Defensively, offensively, he’s just easy. He’s an unbelievable player, probably the best, if not one of the best that I’ve played with. Obviously, I’ve only played with a handful of people, but it’s amazing to be in this company.”

Try Celebrations for Henry Slade of Exeter Chiefs as he goes over for a try to seal the Win during the Investec Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and Munster at Sandy Park, Exeter on 17th Dec 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

A definite student of the game, the Exeter University scholar expressed how impressed he is by Slade’s astute awareness of the sport’s finer details. With an all-round reading of rugby that mirrors his medicine professors intelligence, Feyi-Waboso believes in Slade’s ‘genuis’ understanding when taking control of the Exeter or England back-line.

“I don’t know if it’s like, one thing I’ve said that ‘oh, he’s a genius,’ or if it’s more like a combination of the way he goes about certain situations in games, certain defensive principles, offensive principles. It make sense, and you culminate, and then you basically see the game how he sees the game, and it makes it way more simple.”

There are often comparisons between how England and Exeter operate from a defensive stand-point, with the similarities proving to be very helpful for Feyi-Waboso’s Test match progression. The wing explained how Slade would make the same defensive calls whether wearing the black or white jerseys, which has aided Feyi-Waboso to lift his game.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park, Exeter on 19th Nov 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“Yeah, in Exeter we try to use line-speed a lot. We obviously have a line-speed ‘D’ (defence) with England as well. That transfer of defensive principles was nice. It didn’t make it easy but it makes it a bit more manageable. Especially when you’re playing with Sladey. You’re not alone if you make a mistake. It makes it very manageable.”

Amidst all of the pre-match preparations, the England squad have been able to squeeze in some recreation time during their stay in New Zealand. Ethan Roots has been acting as the squads local Auckland guide, and even organised a fishing trip for the group whilst they stay in his former stomping grounds. Unfortunately for Feyi-Waboso, he wasn’t the best angler in the group, with that accolade going to a certain Harlequins fly half.

“I haven’t been out too much, I went fishing though that was really good. The boys had a bit more luck than I did, I only caught one fish! Marcus was pretty good; it’s all luck at the end of the day! We’ve been eating it, snapper. It was cool.”