It’s a wipe­out for Red Rose in the best team se­lec­tion

The Rugby Paper - - Analysis -

OWEN Far­rell, Maro Itoje and a fit Manu Tuilagi, left, are the only Eng­land play­ers who would tempt the All Black se­lec­tors to tweak their match 23, but as things stand I do not be­lieve any of them would make the New Zealand start­ing fif­teen.

At fly-half Far­rell is up against Beau­den Bar­rett and there is lit­tle chance of All Black coach Steve Hansen sac­ri­fic­ing his reg­u­larly bril­liant match-win­ner for the English­man, who plays 10 and 12. Far­rell is the bet­ter goal-kicker by a street, but Bar­rett is the cat­a­lyst in the counter-at­tack­ing game that is New Zealand's point of dif­fer­ence.

It is also un­likely that Far­rell would oust Ryan Crotty at in­side-cen­tre, and Hansen is also a great ad­mirer of the of­fload­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of his other 12, Sonny Bill Wil­liams.

Crotty is the rock in the All Blacks’ mid­field de­fence and a highly ef­fec­tive can­non-ball of a car­rier – but a fully fit Tuilagi as a Ma’a Nonu-style op­tion would raise Hansen’s eye­brows.

De­spite Itoje’s con­sis­tently im­pres­sive Test-match pres­ence, Brodie Re­tal­lick and Sam Whitelock are the best lock pair­ing in in­ter­na­tional rugby – and have a depth of ex­pe­ri­ence that the Sara­cens man can­not match.

How­ever, Itoje’s ath­leti­cism and line-out skills would in­ter­est New Zealand as a blind­side ri­val to the fast-im­prov­ing Liam Squire, although his first les­son would be to get his body po­si­tion lower when he car­ries.

So, when it comes to the over­all pic­ture of a com­bined New Zealand-Eng­land team it is all black for Eng­land ev­ery­where but on the bench.

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