Lark Davies has challenged England to take their game to ‘a new level’ against New Zealand and believes new forwards coach Louis Deacon can help them do just that.

The Red Roses have not been beaten since their last meeting with the Black Ferns in July 2019, a run of 14 straight victories which has seen them cement their status as the northern hemisphere’s dominant force.

The arrival of the reigning world champions for a double header provides a test of their credentials with the postponed World Cup a year away and Simon Middleton refreshed his coaching set-up over the summer by bringing in Deacon as forwards coach.

The former England men’s flanker, who won 29 caps between 2005 and 2019, has had an instant impact with the pack in training camps and hooker Davies is looking forward to showing evidence of their progress against illustrious opposition.

“New Zealand are the ultimate test,” she said.

“We haven’t faced them for a couple of years and we’ve come a long way in that time. We’ve really evolved as a squad.

“We’ve had a few different [forwards] coaches in during that time and Louis Deacon is a really exciting appointment.

“It’s been great to have him involved. He’s really direct and to the point, which is really important, and I’m excited to see where we can go as a pack with him as coach.

“You’ll see us building on the fast tempo game we played before but it will be really exciting to see where we can take that. I think we can take it to the next level.”

England’s most recent outing ended in bizarre circumstances, with floodlight failure in Lille seeing a hard-fought clash with France brought to a close 18 minutes early.

The visitors, leading 17-15 at the time, were declared winners to keep their run going but Davies insists there will be no resting on laurels, with Canada and the USA lying in wait after the Black Ferns.

“A statement of intent is crucial to us in ensuring we start the season on a real high,” she added.

“We want to show what we’re all about and put ourselves in the best place possible ahead of the Six Nations and World Cup.

“It comes down to nailing what we want to do as a team in terms of our game. We can really show that in these games.

“It’s something we’ve been developing – what are our strengths, what can we show as a team? We want to play a fast-paced game and that’s something we’re really looking to show in these autumns.”

The upcoming fixtures will see England backed by a home crowd for the first time in more than 18 months – a gap so long Davies struggles to recall the last time she featured for her country in front of fans.

The Red Roses wrapped up consecutive Six Nations titles behind closed doors but the 26-year-old hopes crowds will give these games an extra edge.

“The whole atmosphere around the game is really different when you don’t have fans,” she said.

“Obviously, as a player, you go out there and want to put in your best performances – that aspect is really important whether there’s fans or not.

“But having a home crowd to support you, especially at the two venues up first [Sandy Park and Franklin’s Gardens], is really important.

“The noise they’ll make and the way they’ll get behind us will be really important, especially against teams like the Black Ferns.”

England Women take on New Zealand in the second of their autumn internationals at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens / Tickets can be purchased at: