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England sense opportunity against new era All Blacks

England sense opportunity against new era All Blacks

All BlacksJune 19, 2024

England is heading to New Zealand looking to catch Scott Robertson's incoming regime on the hop.

With the prospect that it could be England's last chance to claim a Test series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand as a result of the introduction of the Nations Championship in 2026, the improving England side under coach Steve Borthwick plays Japan at the weekend to get a head start on the All Blacks.

Guardian rugby writer Robert Kitson said, "Whisper it but this might not be the worst time to play a side with a new head coach and some big-name absentees which has not played since the World Cup final in late October.

"In addition to a variety of lurid off-field touring headlines over the past 20 years their past seven Tests on Kiwi soil against the All Blacks have produced seven losses, most recently a 3-0 series defeat under Stuart Lancaster in 2014."

England's only wins over the All Blacks in New Zealand were in 1973 and 2003.

Kitson said, "The question is whether England will be good enough to reach out and grasp that elusive prize.

"On the plus side, the national team finished the Six Nations in a positive frame of mind, and the second half of this season's 10-team Premiership has also seen a step up in intensity.

"Victory over Ireland at Twickenham and a thrilling 33-31 defeat by France in Lyon have hinted at a new England, keen to do more than kick the ball skywards and chase after it."

 

However, while the All Blacks may be missing some key names, England will be without Owen Farrell, the Vunipola brothers, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler, Elliot Daly, George Ford and Ellis Genge.

"New Zealand, regardless, will be eager to impress their new head honcho Scott 'Razor' Robertson. That said they will find it harder to bully England at set piece without Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick and might just be wrongfooted by the ability of one or two opponents."

Borthwick hinted at a changed England approach. "We've got a lot of attacking talent in this squad. You can see the pace and dynamism we have in the squad. We want to make sure those players bring that point of difference on the pitch."

Kitson said, "This purposeful England squad are no longer boring, route-one plodders or the serial losers of Kiwi folklore. It took a last-gasp penalty [goal] from Handre Pollard to floor them in the semifinals of the last World Cup, and they are a cheerfully united group.

"So if they can make a fast start beneath the roof of Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium, having generated early momentum in Tokyo, it is not beyond the realms of possibility they could ruffle a few All Black feathers."

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