| 13.3°C Dublin

All Blacks to breeze past brutal England and show true class

The words 'war', 'battle' and 'confrontation' have been bounced around like a rubber ball in a pinball machine. England's game plan will be basic and brutal.

The one outcome coach Martin Johnson would not have wanted from Hong Kong was a late, late winner from Australia. It will surely stir the All Blacks. They are not 'The Invincibles' just yet.

Suddenly, New Zealand have sunk back into the real world of human error. They are beatable. They can be pressurised. They will make mistakes if the heat comes on the right players in the right areas of the field.

To this end, England are built for containment, suffocation and seizing on the mistakes of those who wilt under their size and strength. It will be a fascinating encounter, providing a world of insight into what Ireland will have to deal with in a little over two weeks.

Common sense dictates that the All Blacks are just too swift in their exploitation of the new interpretation of the rules at the breakdown where their ground floor master Richie McCaw has only Australia's David Pocock for company and the Englishman most capable of matching him in that area, Steffon Armitage, nowhere in sight.

Graham Henry has made four changes, giving vaunted Rugby League convert Sonny Bill Williams his debut. Expect the All Blacks to win with a fair bit in hand, while England rookies, second-row Courtney Lawes, in particular, and scrum-half Ben Youngs, start to make a mark in what could be long, sustained careers at this level.

Verdict: New ZealanD

England: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tindall, S Hape, M Cueto; T Flood, B Youngs; A Sheridan, S Thompson, D Cole, C Lawes, T Palmer, T Croft, L Moody (capt), N Easter.

New Zealand: M Muliaina; J Rokocoko, S B Williams, M Nonu, H Gear; D Carter, A Mathewson; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Thorn, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read.


Privacy