England five-eighth Freddie Burns silences critics
Burns, who endured a dismal season at Gloucester, was given the number 10 role in the series opener against the All Blacks due to the absence of Owen Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler.
And the Leicester-bound pivot delivered with four well-taken penalties and a strong defensive effort in their nail-biting 20-15 loss which was sealed by a late try to All Blacks centre Conrad Smith.
While he remains unlikely to hold his spot for the second Test in Dunedin on Saturday, Burns was pleased with his output.
“I’ve quite mixed emotions at the moment,” the 24-year-old first-five said.
“First and foremost it’s gutting because as a team we gave ourselves an opportunity to get something from the game and to be pipped like we were at the end is gutting.
“But personally I was happy with how I went. Hopefully I silenced a few critics.
“For me and the team it’s a big step forward and a big confidence boost going into the last two Tests.”
Farrell and Myler, whose involvement in the English Premiership final just over a week ago ruled them out for the Eden Park clash, are available for Saturday’s rematch at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
But Burns could well have done enough to persuade England coach Stuart Lancaster to give him a spot on the bench after his accuracy in front of goal – and willingness to take on the line – kept England well in the contest in Auckland.
“I felt massively (I had a point to prove),” Burns said.
“Even talking to the media this week I felt there were a few question marks raised. I’ve never doubted myself, especially in this environment.
“Hopefully I’ve proved I can manage a game and kick my goals in the toughest rugby arena in the world.
“The one thing about this group is we’re building towards the World Cup. We’re all about the team and the squad. Most of the boys that played today really put down a marker and hopefully gave the coaches some tough decisions to make.
“It shows England’s got great depth 15 months out from a World Cup.”
Burns was also confident that England could build on their opening performance and get the tries needed to defeat New Zealand and level the series in Dunedin.
“Both teams have got another 30 to 40 percent improvement in them,” he said.
“We’ll get back to the drawing board, analyse the game and look to take those opportunities when they come to us because it came down to one opportunity at the end and they took it and that was the game.”
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