Eng­land must get into the All Blacks’

Mind games and true grit could prove key for Jones’ men if they are to beat the world’s best

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport / Rugby Union - AUSTIN HEALEY haka Damian Mcken­zie Ben Smith Jack Good­hue Sonny Bill Wil­liams Rieko Ioane Beau­den Bar­rett Aaron Smith

Eng­land have to con­front New Zealand be­fore the first whis­tle to­mor­row by re­spond­ing to the haka. Be it walk­ing to­wards the All Blacks, or ig­nor­ing it, how­ever they want to. Un­less you re­spond to it, I have al­ways felt that the haka is a mas­sive ad­van­tage for New Zealand.

Fronting up to the haka is not a sign of dis­re­spect; it is about meet­ing the chal­lenge. And if New Zealand are of­fended, so what? To­day, it al­most seems il­le­gal to cause of­fence, but you want to of­fend the All Blacks. Not to be dis­re­spect­ful, be­cause that is some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent and un­ac­cept­able in sport. But you do want to of­fend them slightly in case it puts them off their game.

It can be the same in de­fence with a big col­li­sion. When you do not ex­pect some­thing like that, it can lead to you tak­ing a back­wards step. I en­joyed the way the Welsh han­dled it in 2008, walk­ing up to­wards the haka in a line. It was not dis­re­spect­ful: it was say­ing that they were up for the fight.

As an Eng­land team, let us go out there to cause of­fence in the way that we play. Come out and de­fend with a blitz pat­tern, which is the only time New Zealand fail to look as good as we all think they are. Come out with the at­ti­tude that this will be the best per­for­mance you can put in wear­ing the white shirt.

As I left Twick­en­ham last week, a South African sup­porter told me that Eng­land had not de­served to win, and that he could not wait for next week when New Zealand would ham­mer us. It took me back to 1997. We played New Zealand twice, los­ing the first game at Old Traf­ford, and ev­ery non-english per­son told us how they could not wait for the fol­low­ing week when the All Blacks would thrash us at Twick­en­ham.

Last week felt the same. There was some ban­ter on Twit­ter, first from the South Africans and then the Welsh and the Ir­ish and Scots, who, not un­sur­pris­ingly, all thought the Owen Far­rell tackle was a penalty. It showed how much dis­dain there was and how Eng­land’s Richard Cock­er­ill (top) got in the All Blacks’ faces dur­ing the in 1997; Ire­land closed in on them in 1989; and (bot­tom) Aus­tralia’s David Cam­pese prac­tised his kick­ing in 1991 many peo­ple want Eng­land to lose. So, it is time for this group to ac­tu­ally stand up and say: “You might hate us, but we are go­ing to shove it right up you.”

Nor­mally you go into a Test think­ing about how you can win tac­ti­cally, but not this week­end. In 1997, those first 15 min­utes, we just blitzed the All Blacks like a wave of psy­chopaths. That is what I want to see from this Eng­land side: that old grit, that old pas­sion.

When we drew the sec­ond game with the All Blacks 26-26 back in 1997, I have never been at a game at Twick­en­ham where the crowd have been so in­volved. They were singing at half-time, glued to their seats – that col­lec­tive spirit can carry a side a long way in what will be a fe­ro­cious en­counter.

Speak­ing of fe­ro­cious, watch­ing the Far­rell tackle on the screen last week­end, I thought it was a border­line call. Hav­ing since seen a num­ber of still im­ages, it was a penalty. You very rarely get a tackle made at that an­gle, and Far­rell steps for­ward with such fe­roc­ity he can­not pos­si­bly wrap his left arm around. Only Mr Tickle could have done that to An­dre Ester­huizen, be­cause of the an­gle of im­pact. Watch­ing it at full speed, Far­rell al­most tries to wrap his arms af­ter the tackle. How­ever, go­ing by re­cent in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing the Danny Cipri­ani send­ing-off against Mun­ster, the ear­lier dan­ger­ous tackle on Ge­orge Kruis should have been a red card.

One fi­nal point re­gard­ing Eng­land’s se­lec­tion: I like Chris Ash­ton as a player but the ques­tion I have al­ways had about him has con­cerned his de­fence. Is he a good de­fender? Is he com­mit­ted enough? You will cer­tainly find out to­mor­row op­po­site Rieko Ioane, who has 22 tries in 21 Tests.

Ash­ton def­i­nitely has the pace to keep up with Ioane, but I hope he gets in­volved and sticks his head in, be­cause if it works out for Ash­ton he could be a su­per­star for Eng­land. Elec­tric. And an­other play­maker. Brings a dif­fer­ent dy­namic to the game. Whether you play him or Smith at full-back you are not los­ing much ei­ther way. They are both awe­some.

What is left to say about The Or­a­cle? You can prob­a­bly count on one hand the num­ber of mis­takes he has made in the last two to three years. Mr Con­sis­tent. And an all-round top bloke as well.

Jack’s se­lec­tion at 13 shows the strength in depth of this team when you con­sider who has been left out. Big guy, although not as big as his twin brother Josh, who is a lock for the Blues!

Ev­ery­body knows the story of Sonny

Bill (left). He is the ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional. I grew up watch­ing him play so to play along­side him was pretty spe­cial.

What is there not to like about this guy? Rieks can score tries, make line breaks. One of the big char­ac­ters in the team. When he and TJ Per­e­nara get to­gether you can­not get a word in.

A freak of na­ture. I know he is al­ways look­ing for im­prove­ment. If there is a one per cent gain to be made Beau­den (right) will be work­ing on it.

Huge ex­pe­ri­ence and rarely if ever has a poor game. Be­ing kept on his toes by TJ Per­e­nara who is an­other big char­ac­ter in this squad and a big com­peti­tor.

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