Styles con­trast whets ap­petites

ENG­LAND SO­LID­ITY V ALL BLACKS’ VER­SA­TIL­ITY

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Lon­don

“Styles make fights” is usu­ally the talk of boxing pro­mot­ers but it could prove true of Eng­land’s long-awaited clash against world cham­pi­ons New Zea­land at Twick­en­ham to­day.

Coach Ed­die Jones has of­ten in­sisted that try­ing to play the All Blacks at their own run­ning from deep, pass­ing game is a recipe for de­feat, with the Aus­tralian cham­pi­oning the tra­di­tional Red Rose strengths of a pow­er­ful for­ward pack and solid set-piece.

And All Blacks coach Steve Hansen ac­cepted there was more than one way to win a game.

“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.

Six years ago, af­ter lead­ing 12-0 at the break cour­tesy of four Owen Far­rell penal­ties, Eng­land ran in three sec­ond-half tries through Brad Bar­ritt, Chris Ash­ton and Manu Tuilagi in a 38-21 tri­umph.

Fly­half Far­rell has found him­self in the spot­light af­ter es­cap­ing any ac­tion for a seem­ingly il­le­gal shoul­der charge in the clos­ing stages of an unconvincing 12-11 win over South Africa at Twick­en­ham last week­end.

Ash­ton, 31, who came off the bench against the Springboks, has scored 19 tries in a 40-cap Eng­land ca­reer in­ter­rupted by sus­pen­sions and spend­ing a sea­son with French gi­ants Toulon.

“That try-scor­ing skill is not coached,” said Jones.

“Guys like that, the only thing you can do is stuff them up by coach­ing them.”

Free rein is some­thing that comes nat­u­rally to an All Blacks side where full­back Damian McKenzie will act as a “sec­ond play­maker” to star fly­half Beau­den Bar­rett in Hansen’s first-choice team.

For all their ball-play­ing skill, few New Zea­land sides have lacked phys­i­cal pres­ence and a team cap­tained by No 8 Kieran Read will look to make an im­pact up front.

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 old adage of less is more is prob­a­bly a good thing,” said Hansen. “Would we be so ex­cited about play­ing Eng­land if we were play­ing twice a year, ev­ery year? – maybe not.

“But we haven’t played them in four years and ev­ery­one is on the edge of their seat.” – AFP

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