There are differing approaches to selection for the Dunedin Test as England move Tuilagi onto the wing and strengthen with players returning from injury and those who missed the first Test due to domestic finals while New Zealand make one personnel change, reports Alan Dymock from Auckland
Shaking it up for the second Test against the All Blacks this Saturday, England head coach Stuart Lancaster has brought five new names into his starting lineup, while Manu Tuilagi shifts onto the wing.
The move means that Tuilagi goes onto the right wing to set-up a Dunedin showdown with fit-again Julian Savea as the hosts retain all but one of the team that defeated England 20-15 at Eden Park, themselves shifting Ben Smith to full-back as an injured Israel Dagg drops out. Marland Yarde hops over to the left wing to accommodate Tuilagi, replacing Jonny May who has fallen out of the squad completely.
With changes being rung – James Haskell joins May in falling from the squad completely – it is perhaps a surprise that Courtney Lawes is not brought straight back in alongside Joe Launchbury, but Lancaster feels he had to strike a balance between rewarding some who shone last Saturday, as Geoff Parling and Rob Webber did, and reinstating those who have performed well for him, long-term.
“The side we have gone for is certainly an exciting side, it’s one we have wanted to look at for a while,” Lancaster said of the team for Forsyth Barr.
On Tuilagi’s selection he said: “We were thinking of Manu on the wing six to 12 months ago, really. Having seen him as an age-grade player play there and understanding how effective he was, I saw that obviously when I was in charge of the Saxons. What we’ve now got is real quality in the centres who can get the ball to him. And it’s not just about clearly getting the ball to Manu on the wing because you have Luther (Burrell) and Billy (Twelvetrees) who played really well for us in the centres in the Six Nations.”
Clearly putting three into two is difficult, but with Tuilagi being able to plough up the middle from strike moves, Lancaster is happy to use him out wide, even if there may be an element of uncertainty about how Tuilagi copes with high balls being kicked his way. As his coach put it, there will certainly be plenty of opportunity to counter-attack.
The get out of jail card on the bench is Chris Ashton, who takes the place left with May away. And with fireworks promised as Dylan Hartley, Lawes and Billy Vunipola come on near the hour mark, it is certainly easy to see why the coach is excited about his selection. The only potential issue is having the freshly buoyed Freddie Burns now covering stand-off and full-back from the bench.
Young Kieran Brookes also comes in on the bench with Henry Thomas struggling with a knock that has “weakened” his neck, however the England coaches are more than happy to see how the 125kg prop holds up, should he be needed.
Much of the pre-game hype will be about Tuilagi trying to hit Savea – who has scored 19 tries in 20 games – “very hard.” However, with England promising to play for 80 minutes rather than fade in the dying minutes, expect this game to turn on how the impact substitutes fare and how those needed for a full shift survive.
England XV to face All Blacks: Mike Brown; Manu Tuilagi, Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Marland Yarde; Owen Farrell, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Rob Webber, David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Ben Morgan.
England subs to face All Blacks: Dylan Hartley, Matt Mullan, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns, Chris Ashton
All Black XV to face England: Ben Smith; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino.
All Blacks subs to face England: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Victor Vito, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Malakai, Fekitoa
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