NEW ZEALAND NEED TO WIN MORE THAN ENGLAND, WITH SOUTH AFRICA LIKELY TO BE VIEWED AS THEIR KEY SCALP
From an All Blacks perspective, this is the last time they will play England before the World Cup and psychologically to win at Twickenham would be really important.
In 12 months’ time New Zealand could potentially be playing a World Cup final against England and history has shown there is a huge advantage for a home team at a World Cup so to beat them now would be significant.
The English know how to beat the All Blacks, they did so in 2012. The England players know what that feels like whereas they have not beaten South Africa under Stuart Lancaster so psychologically I’m sure that is one of the games England will be focusing on. For me, England will beat Samoa and Australia and one of South Africa and New Zealand, that is the minimum requirement.
THE WORLD CHAMPIONS HAVE LOOKED VULNERABLE WHEN THE OPPOSITION HAVE ADOPTED A PHYSICAL APPROACH
Tomorrow’s game will be won and lost by limiting mistakes and the All Blacks do that very well.
The collision area and the physicality shown will also be really important.
I think in general the top five or six teams in the world are pretty even in terms of their ability and it comes down to the options they take. I don’t think there will be much in it at all.
To beat the All Blacks you have to take them on physically and get them on the back foot. They have only lost twice in 46 Tests since winning the World Cup in 2011 – versus England at Twickenham two years ago and against South Africa in Johannesburg last month – and when those defeats have come and when New Zealand have been challenged it is when a team has looked to take them on.
That is exactly what England will try and do, get them on the back foot just like they did in 2012. Why did South Africa beat them at Ellis Park to end their 22-match unbeaten run? It was because the Springboks had a No10 that ran the ball.
ENGLAND’S INJURY WOES ARE NOTHING NEW IN INTERNATIONAL RUGBY AND COULD HAVE LONG-TERM BENEFITS
Over the next month or so England will be coming up against some of the best teams in the world and, while injuries have dominated their build-up, it will pay dividends down the line for the players that do play.
I have heard Stuart Lancaster say injuries are no excuse and the guys coming through will get exposed to the top end. That is vital. When you look at World Cup-winning teams they tend to use most of their squad.
ENGLAND EARNED A LOT OF RESPECT ON THEIR SUMMER TOUR TO NEW ZEALAND DESPITE THE WHITEWASH
The All Blacks have a huge amount of respect for England anyway as they know they are capable of turning the tables but I think England got more out of that series than people give them credit for in terms of the style of rugby that works and the style of rugby that doesn’t.
And it is crucial this autumn England get the right game-plan that can beat southern hemisphere sides.
New Zealand may have beaten England three times in the summer but it is vital they start well tomorrow. They will want to limit their mistakes and do the simple things well. Steve Hansen’s side are a very basic team in terms of their game-plan but what they do well is execute it individually and collectively very well, they are quite outstanding. I’m expecting one hell of a game.
Sean Fitzpatrick is special guest speaker at today's Allianz Rugby Speaker of the Year at The Brewery, London.