England face their toughest challenge this weekend as the All Blacks look to end their unbeaten season on a high, while the hosts need to bounce back from two consecutive losses. Today’s O2 Inside Line looks at things in the camp from their point of view.
The 16-15 loss to the Springboks was a bitter pill to swallow for many England fans, who along with the majority of the media, gave captain Chris Robshaw a hard time for his decision at the end.
England weren’t guaranteed to score a try even if they had secured the restart, but one can understand the frustrations at having lost to another southern hemisphere superpower.
Unfortunately it’s the best of the best that are in town now, as both sides play their final game of the season, with the hosts desperate for a win and the visitors aiming to continue their unbeaten run, and give skipper Richie McCaw a fitting send off before he takes six months out of the game.
While they’ve beaten all before them, the All Blacks reputation has been tarnished somewhat over the past few weeks, which is something they have admitted they’re embarrassed about.
“We don’t want to see that in the game and although we love Andrew, we didn’t love what he did,” Hansen said of the Andrew Hore incident that he picked up a five week ban for.
“The intent was to do something else but he got it drastically wrong. As a result of that he hit the man on the chin and knocked him out. He’s made a poor decision and has paid for it. Our group has a zero-tolerance approach to foul play, we’re not a dirty side.”
Talent and reputations aside, when England face the All Blacks it’s usually brutal up front, so while the home will look to impose themselves early on, you can be sure that any loose play will get punished by the most lethal attacking side on the planet.
Saturday, 1 December, Twickenham, Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
15, Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
New Zealand team:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumunia, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ben Smith.
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