All Blacks reckon clash with England bigger than Lions series


Steve Hansen has insisted the All Blacks' clash with England this weekend is even bigger than last year's series against the British and Irish Lions.

England face New Zealand for the first time in four years on Saturday when the All Blacks visit Twickenham.

It's fair to say, then, the All Blacks have a point to prove over the next two weeks as they meet England and Ireland, both of whom feature many familiar faces from the Lions tour.

"At one stage, we were so close to them that they wanted to kiss the New Zealanders, but I told them to take it easy", said Dusautoir afterwards.

Hansen feels the opposition have improved significantly since Australian Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster as head coach in November 2015.

Henry Slade suggested that supporters could sing over the top of it and Dylan Hartley, the co-captain, called on supporters to be "vocal".

There were also 27 Englishmen among the 131 worldwide rugby players to have died in the war. It's hard to get momentum when you're changing your squad all the time. Given that you need to score tries to beat New Zealand, especially as they average over five tries per game, the only way to do that is by entering the 22 and the numbers show that a willingness to run the ball back at the All Blacks is beneficial in that goal.

Even Beauden Barrett, who endured a hard time against the Lions' rush defence, brushed off concerns he may again be stifled.

"It might be a little louder, but I'm not trying to think about it and play the game I've been playing since I was a kid and do my thing". "No doubt England would have got pieces from that series and will look to bring those into this test match". Double world player of the year Beauden Barrett directs operations at fly-half with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Smith outside him.

"There'll be lots of guys in this side who've never faced New Zealand before but they've got their chance now and my advice is to relish it". This caculated message is a clear tactic to dial up pressure on Jones and England.

While Hansen would be open to the idea of more regular meetings between the teams, he has concerns about the knock-on effect.

Saturday's match will provide England with a useful yardstick ahead of next year's World Cup in Japan, with George warning: "If you're slightly off against the All Blacks they'll take advantage.We have to put our stamp on the game".

"The one constant thing about being in the All Blacks is you're under pressure constantly", said Hansen. As now, we were playing the world champions; they'd been unbeaten since the World Cup and you know that if you're not playing somewhere near your best you're going to get spanked because they're a quality side. Then you realise "we can be in this", but by then it's too late.