All Blacks v England: What you need to know

All Blacks v England

Kick-off: 7.05pm, Saturday 6 July

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Live blog coverage on RNZ Sport

We’re finally here. After all of the drama surrounding Scott Robertson being appointed All Black coach and what the team has been through in that time, his first test side will run out on Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night to face the music. By that, of course, we mean a fired-up English side intent on creating a bit of history with a series win in New Zealand.

Steve Borthwick’s England have been improving steadily since hitting the reset button last season. They’ve built an exciting looking team from the ground up, adding more and more attacking intent into their traditional forward-based game plan.

What will Robertson’s All Blacks have to combat this threat? He hasn’t gone for a cleanout, more a tweak here and there to deal with the players that left on their own accord at the end of the last World Cup cycle.

Here’s a look at the teams:

All Blacks: 1. Ethan de Groot 2. Codie Taylor 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. Scott Barrett (captain) 5, Patrick Tuipulotu, 6. Samipeni Finau 7. Dalton Papali’i 8. Ardie Savea (vice-captain) 9. TJ Perenara 10. Damian McKenzie 11. Mark Tele’a 12. Jordie Barrett 13. Rieko Ioane 14. Sevu Reece 15. Stephen Perofeta

Bench: 16. Asafo Aumua 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 18. Fletcher Newell 19. Tupou Vaa’i 20. Luke Jacobson 21. Finlay Christie 22. Anton Lienert-Brown 23. Beauden Barrett

England: 15. George Furbank, 14. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13. Henry Slade (vice-captain), 12. Ollie Lawrence, 11. Tommy Freeman, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Alex Mitchell 8. Ben Earl (vice-captain), 7. Sam Underhill, 6. Chandler Cunningham-South, 5. George Martin, 4. Maro Itoje (vice-captain), 3. Will Stuart, 2. Jamie George (captain), 1. Joe Marler (vice-captain)

Bench: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Fin Baxter, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Alex Coles, 20. Tom Curry, 21. Ben Spencer, 22. Fin Smith, 23. Ollie Sleightholme

All Blacks selections

Stephen Perofeta. Blues training at Eden Rugby Club, Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday 21 February 2023 ahead of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific rugby union competition. Mandatory credit: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

The biggest talking point about this team is Stephen Perofeta starting at fullback, which means Beauden Barrett goes to the bench. That’s a lot of experience to cover either 15 or 10 if things go pear-shaped, with the same logic used at halfback where TJ Perenara is starting ahead of Finlay Christie and Cortez Ratima. Samipeni Finau got the nod at blindside, due to the fact that he’s simply played more rugby lately than Ethan Blackadder.

England selections

England’s Marcus Smith celebrates kicking a drop goal to win their match against Ireland.

Meanwhile, Borthwick has gone with a back three that has only 23 tests worth of experience between them. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso comes in with a reputation for excitement, while Marcus Smith has a bit of the Damian McKenzie aura about him. It’s a very big and experienced pack, as expected, with the loose trio of Ben Earl, Sam Underhill and Chandler Cunningham-South likely to be taking the ball into contact a lot.

What they’re saying

“Walk towards it, embrace it, love it. What an amazing opportunity we have got here. It was 2003 the last time England won here. We were at a charity dinner before we left and they were asking Steve Borthwick about being on that tour. I said to the boys: We’ve got an opportunity to do something really special so that in 20 years’ time they are going to be asking us about the victory.” – England captain Jamie George.

“It’s just the best team for this test. To set them up with combinations is really critical, and there’s a lot of guys who have played a lot of tests. We’ve got a strong bench, a very experienced bench that’ll be really critical.” – All Blacks coach Scott Robertson.

The last time they met

All Blacks 25 – 25 England

What should have been a comfortable win for the All Blacks in November 2022 turned into a lesson in how not to close out a game. The English ran in three tries in 10 minutes to salvage an unlikely draw, with an otherwise very composed end of year tour ruined.

Read more here.

Prediction

All signs point towards this one being a tight and tense affair. England will likely only want to play in the opposition half, at least to start with, so expect Smith to do a fair bit of kicking. The All Blacks will want to stamp their mark on the set piece early, but really, it’s at the breakdown where they will need to be accurate right from the start.

Nika Amashukeli is the referee for the game, the 29-year-old Georgian controlled two All Black tests in 2022. One was the historic loss to Argentina in Christchurch, the other the end of year tour win over Japan. Scott Barrett will need to get on Amashukeli’s good side early.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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