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What England must do to achieve historic result vs All Blacks – Andy Goode

By Andy Goode
Marcus Smith will be wanting to show that he is the man to drive England towards the 2027 World Cup (Photo Alex Davidson/ Getty Images)

The southern hemisphere sides have to be favourites but the north has a real chance over the next couple of weekends, which hasn’t always been the case at this time of year, and England have to take theirs in Dunedin.

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Historically, the home nations haven’t had a huge amount of success in these July Tests away from home and at the end of a long, gruelling season, but they came away with a 6-6 draw a couple of years ago, if you include Scotland’s tour to Argentina, and I can see it being all square again this time around.

The Scots have opted for a cruise through North and South America so we’ll leave them out but I think England, Ireland and Wales can all pick up one win from their two-Test series and replicate the evenly matched summer of 2022.

While the Welsh and Irish can, and indeed might have to wait until game two for their success, Steve Borthwick’s men simply have to catch the All Blacks’ new regime cold and get their win at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The Dunedin ground is fully covered, small by international standards with a capacity of around 30,000 and less of a daunting prospect for the opposition than a certain venue in Auckland that England will be travelling to next week.

Ireland beat New Zealand at Forsyth Barr Stadium in 2022 and if England don’t do the same, then a 2-0 series defeat will look extremely likely given the All Blacks are looking to extend their unbeaten record at Eden Park to a scarcely believable 50 matches.

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Only five members of this 36-man England squad were even born the last time New Zealand lost a game there, all the way back in 1994 to a France side captained by Philippe Saint-Andre and featuring the likes of Emile Ntamack, Philippe Sella, Thierry Lacroix, Christian Califano and Abdelatif Benazzi.

That illustrates the scale of the task facing England next week and, while the run has to end at some point, the All Blacks tend to elevate themselves to another level at Eden Park with the record adding an extra layer to the mystique surrounding the team.

On paper, this All Blacks side is as beatable as it has been for a long time; it is at an earlier stage of its transition period than England and has a couple of obvious areas of vulnerability and this week represents the best chance to exploit them.

Clearly, a relatively short preparation time and potential lack of cohesion is the prime reason for English optimism but the absence of some imposing figures up front, inexperience at full back and a new fly half are other big ones.

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Damian McKenzie (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Damian McKenzie might have been ripping it up for a good while now but this is just his sixth Test start in the famous All Black number 10 jersey and Stephen Perofeta is starting a Test for just the second time and has spent half his time in Super Rugby playing fly half in recent seasons.

Having a playmaker at fly half and full back is something New Zealand have favoured for years now and they do have a certain Beauden Barrett waiting on the bench in case of emergency, but England will definitely target Perofeta under the high ball and look to expose him positionally.

Neither prop has a wealth of top level experience and Patrick Tuipulotu has never really managed to nail down a regular spot in the second row, so England will feel they have the edge when it comes to experience and grunt up front.

They can’t revert to type in terms of focusing purely on forward power and kicking the leather off the ball, and it may only be three games, one of which they actually lost, but they seem to have found a formula that means they can entertain and succeed against Ireland, France and Japan.

It isn’t a case of chucking it around all over the place and Marcus Smith’s decision-making will be key but England have some serious strike weapons in the likes of Ollie Lawrence, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman, and are actually using them.

New Zealand will, of course, want to play themselves and try to take advantage of the lack of experience in England’s backline at the very highest level so it’s all set up to be an absolute blockbuster and there should be tries.

Across the Tasman Sea, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of a series between a very new-look Wallabies and an equally fresh-faced Wales, both who have had a tough last year or so, but I can see them sharing the spoils.

South Africa Springboks Ireland
Siya Kolisi of South Africa leads players of South Africa off the field through a guard of honour formed by players of Ireland after defeat during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

At the opposite end of the scale, there’s the battle to call yourself the best team in the world as Ireland face world champions South Africa in their own backyard and the Irish are looking to beat the Boks four times on the spin for the first time ever.

All those previous three victories came on European soil though and it’s an altogether tougher task facing the World Cup winners on home soil, where Ireland have only ever won once before back in 2016.

It’s a bold call by Andy Farrell to pick Jamie Osborne at full back, a position he’s only twice started in for Leinster, but he’s earned the right to make those sorts of selections and be trusted.

It’s going to be an epic series between the top two ranked teams in the world and the Springboks will be tough to beat at altitude at Loftus Versfeld even for a side as fit as Ireland so they may stand more of a chance in Durban next week.

A series victory would be an historic achievement for Ireland, England or Wales and all three are capable of pulling it off, given either their own prowess or the state of the opposition, but I just feel it might be a bridge too far so I’m going for a 1-1 draw in all three series.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

21 Comments
B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

10 - 10 Half Time,. . . Unbelieveable ….., Game over…. Razor has worked out Poms game plan and ALL over (wide_

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

Watching the first 30 minutes. . The poms are F…..

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

I don”t expect any of you Poms to be watching. I was 8 when I used to listened to the All Blacks play South Africa. .

And that is why “That is the greatest Rugby Clash in the World”

POMS nil….

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

Ireland have 21,000 Senior players,

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

Scotland have about 8.000 players. How good are they?

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

New Zealand V England. What a great Test and a display of Rugby.

England has 121,000 Senior Players and New Zealand has 27,000 Senior players.

That is why we are the “Best Rugby Nation in the World”

B
B.J. Spratt 18 days ago

All Blacks 43 Poms 9. . . 15 minutes All Blacks 14 Poms nil. . .Half time All Blacks 24 Poms nil and after that who cares?

n
nunya 18 days ago

Odd comment about the NZ front row being a weakness, especially with Will Stuart playing tighthead for England. I expect NZ to dominate the scrum and for England to lose because of it. We have got to start bringing through some young tighheads if we’re to compete for silverware

J
Jon 18 days ago

It’s a great ploy by Razor. We have been hearing England don’t kick anymore, instead they use their back three for attack.

Well, if they want to target this weakpoint and kick ball away, they are going to have to be prepared to sit back and let the All Blacks be the ones that attack from the back three.

What will Steve Borthwick do in probably his first real test as a English Coach (he has come up against the likes of Rassie before but that was a fairly predictable straight up battle for obvious reasons)?

F
Flatcoat 18 days ago

The AB'S have selected a big..physical pack.. it hasn’t been selected to maintain parity..I think we will take it to Eng in the forwards
Selecting TJ gives us an extra loosie..it will be a physical game..looking forward to it.

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