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Woodward: 'Wake-up call for England'


'Wake-up call for England': Sir Clive Woodward on All Blacks win

NZ Herald

The All Blacks are still the team to beat ahead of the Rugby World Cup, says former England coach Sir Clive Woodward.

In his latest column for the Daily Mail, Woodward said rugby nations emboldened by New Zealand’s record loss to Australia in Perth last week will have to think again after the 36-0 demolition of the Wallabies at Eden Park.

Woodward said the All Blacks’ win on Saturday was a “wake-up call” for England, describing the All Blacks as “simply fantastic”. He also praised Sonny Bill Williams and said in first-five Richie Mo’unga the Kiwis now have a world-class goalkicker to complement the all-round abilities of the team.

“It was business as usual for New Zealand and a wake-up call for the rest of the leading contenders for Japan,” Woodward wrote in his weekly column.

“After losing to the Wallabies in Perth the rugby world was hoping there was a possible chink in this All Black team but yesterday Steve Hansen’s side handed the Australians a lesson at Eden Park winning 36-0. It was a real sit-up and say ‘wow’ moment.

“Make no mistake they are still the team to beat.

“They were simply fantastic in very bad conditions. Sonny Bill Williams was back and Richie Mo’unga is a proper goal kicker and that counts for a lot in World Cups.”

Elsewhere, Daily Mail columnist Nik Simon echoed Woodward’s praise for the men in black in a piece called Lessons from an All Blacks backlash!

Simon wrote that “normal order has been restored in world rugby” and that despite the All Blacks’ aura fading recently, “the World Cup is still theirs to lose”.

He also had praise for lesser-known players who impressed during the emphatic victory.

“Wingers George Bridge and Sevu Reece had just six caps between them. The All Black production line (with help from Fiji) is still churning out talent,” Simon wrote.

“Bridge floated through gaps before rounding off his night with a try, and the slight Reece showed deceptive strength and fast-twitch skills to also get on the scoresheet. With prolific Rieko Ioane also in the mix, Hansen has hot pickings out wide.”

Simon also heaped praise on the All Blacks pack.

“Only Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje could challenge Brodie Retallick to the title of the world’s best lock,” he wrote.

“The All Blacks pack is vulnerable without him but yesterday, at least, proved that they have the ability to plug the gap. The lineout struggled but the scrum was dominant.”

Sonny Bill Williams also caught his eye.

“The centres don’t have the authority of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith in 2015 but there’s a wealth of options and Sonny Bill Williams is still a major force.

“Richie Mo’unga is an able deputy to Beauden Barrett, while scrum-halves Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara have 141 caps combined (Willi Heinz has two).”

This article first appeared on and was republished again here with permission.

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'Wake-up call for England': Sir Clive Woodward on All Blacks win
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