Monday, 10 December, 2018

Hansen: Less is better when it comes to NZ-England tests

All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue joined the squad in London after recovering from glandular fever GETTY IMAGESAll Blacks centre Jack Goodhue joined the squad in London after recovering from glandular fever
Cary Erickson | 10 November, 2018, 08:29

"Southern hemisphere rugby - there's a lot of talk about Super Rugby, it's very free-flowing with a lot of tries scored, but in this part of the world, maybe because the environment is different, the weather is different, there is a necessity to play a tighter game", said Hansen.

It all makes for an intriguing clash fewer than 12 months out from the 2019 World Cup in Japan - one made all the more exciting by the fact it is four years since England last played New Zealand. The 21-year-old just can not stop scoring with a brilliant record of 22 tries in 21 Tests.

An England team featuring several members of the 1980 Grand Slam side ultimately proved too strong for a less than vintage New Zealand team.

Leicester hooker Youngs, right, who won his fourth cap that day, told The Rugby Paper: "We were definitely under huge pressure after losing to Australia and South Africa, but it actually tightened us as a group and we got ready for a massive, massive battle".

Nowell drops to the bench but there is no place for Manu Tuilagi despite his recovery from the groin strain that ruled him out against the Springboks.

Owen Farrell co-captains the team alongside Dylan Hartley and needs only one more point to reach 700 for England.

"England at home is always a massive challenge for anyone", he said.

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"He's a tough rooster, a warrior". They want to make a statement. He takes the ball to the line, he puts his body on the line, he doesn't play in a dinner suit.

To aid their pursuit of a stunning upset, survivors from the 2012 victory at Twickenham and the second Lions in Wellington previous year have been canvassed for their views on where New Zealand are vulnerable.

It is true those two big suspensions stymied Jones's possible intent to select Ashton and let him add to his 19 worldwide tries, which is the record for a current England player. Steve Hansen's side were stunned by South Africa in Wellington after a 36-34 defeat in September.

A powerful forward pack gave scrumhalf Jan Webster a platform to produce a fine display of tactical kicking as England outscored the All Blacks' three tries to two, via flank Tony Neary, wing Peter Squires and prop Stack Stevens.

"We looked at a number of possibilities for Curry, but we wanted a like for like player and Underhill is a like for like player", Jones said.

"I hurt my back - I tore a disc - the week before the Leicester game and it was kind of settling down but I was touch and go", said Lawes. "I see them as being equally important".