MIKE Tindall reckons any win in New Zealand this summer will set England up for World Cup glory.
The former Red Rose centre lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy in 2003, having conquered both the All Blacks and Australia on their home patch.
England jet Down Under for a three Test tour of the Land of the Long White Cloud this summer and Tindall insists any success will act as a springboard towards the global showpiece.
Speaking at Kingsholm yesterday, with just 500 days until the big kick-off, Tindall said: “Winning in New Zealand was massive in terms of our preparation for the 2003 World Cup.
“The year of the World Cup we beat New Zealand and Australia in games down there and it’s just a reaffirmation that you are in the right place and looking good.
“It’s going to be a tough tour, three games is it too much? Possibly when you look how long the year is going to be but it gives them a real marker.
“The form they showed in the Six Nations, they look like a tough team to beat and they are hungry.
“If they can win one or two games they will be in a very strong place and teams will really start worrying about them.”
Stuart Lancaster will be without a host of stars for the first Test, which is held in Dunedin just seven days after the Premiership final.
He is also sweating on the fitness of Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees, who limped out of Saturday’s victory over London Irish and underwent scans yesterday (Tues).
But Tindall reckons the opportunity to blood youngsters is in New Zealand is a golden one, despite the might of the All Blacks.
Manu Tuilagi is likely to come back into the centre at some stage but there are questions whether a partnership with Luther Burrell would be too one dimensional and Tindall believes that opens the door.
He added: “With the injuries they had in the Six Nations they had to make changes and that’s improved the team.
“You have a bigger player pool Stuart can trust and that will only improve them.
“And when you look at the first Test, what else can they do? With the Premiership final they’re going to have to bring players in and give chances.
“The only way people can respond in high level sport is if they are given an opportunity. A lot of kids are going to get that chance and they have to step up.
“If Billy is out it gives them that option of bringing Tuilagi back in but whether you can play him and Luther Burrell together I’m not sure.
“You could get George Ford involved with Owen Farrell because what they like with Billy is his ability to be a second ball player, which he has had from playing 10.
“He has good handling and those basic skills which gives them options to play.
“If you bring Manu back in you have to find a player that can complement him.
“Kyle Eastmond could be another, it opens a lot of doors but that will just benefit the squad in the long run.”
England have not beat the All Blacks on their own patch since 2003 and all the subsequent matches have been lost by more than 17 points. But Tindall expects three closely fought contests.
He added: “You won’t see that with the mentality they have developed. Just looking at the breakdown, they are just fantastic and will give New Zealand a tough time in an area they are really proud of.
“They are continuing to develop that attacking game. Everything is positive and you just hope they can continue that.”