Burns: I proved a point
Freddie Burns hopes he has proved a point in England's 20-15 defeat by New Zealand at Eden Park.
Burns endured a disappointing campaign at Gloucester but was given the opportunity to pull the strings in the first Test due to the absence of Owen Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler.
The Leicester-bound fly-half responded with a performance notable for four penalties, superb game management and a brave shift in defence.
"I have mixed emotions at the moment," Burns said.
"First and foremost it's gutting because as a team we gave ourselves an opportunity to get something from the game. 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.
"There are still areas of the game I want to get better at and I know there are areas out there I can definitely improve on.
"But for me and the team it's a big step forward and a big confidence boost going into the last two Tests.
"I felt massively that I had a point to prove in this match. 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."
Burns could have done little more to argue his case to be retained for next Saturday's second Test in Dunedin, but is still set to be replaced by Farrell.
Farrell watched from the stands at Eden Park but is available for England's bid to level the series having appeared in the Aviva Premiership last weekend. The best Burns can hope for is a spot on the bench.
"The one thing about this group is we're building towards the World Cup. We're all about the team and the squad," Burns said.
"Most of the boys that played 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."