I WATCHED Australia beat New Zealand last week by challenging them with the ball in hand and I think England ought to play in that vein tomorrow, as they did when they beat the Wallabies in June.
One area England could target is the All Blacks’ new centre combination of debutant Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu. They will be strong but may not have that understanding that comes from playing together, and that could perhaps be exploited.
Saying that, I would not be surprised if England had concentrated on defence and the need to stop Nonu and key runners in the pack. New Zealand are full of capable finishers, but England can go into the game with belief.
England’s last game ended in a win, so they must take confidence from that. They have only made one change to the team, and that, the return of Andrew Sheridan, is one that makes the pack stronger.
Lewis Moody, ably supported by his pack, faces a key battle with Richie McCaw, and hopefully that is one area England can get parity and perhaps put the All Blacks on the back foot.
Chris Ashton and Ben Foden are both set to feature for England, which means they won’t be in the Northampton side we face on Sunday in the LV= Cup. Naturally Saints will miss those explosive and elusive backs and we don’t know what team they will put out, but they are flying high and I can’t see them changing too much.
We at Saracens will be without the injured Brad Barritt but I gather his injury is not as bad as was first thought, so he could be back in three weeks. Gavin Henson is also training with us now, and he seems to be enjoying being back in the team environment. Gavin has a strong vision, wish and belief that he can make the World Cup; that will take a very committed person and hopefully Saracens will reap the rewards.
We’re confident we can respond to last week’s defeat to Exeter. There’s a different focus this weekend but overall we’re in the Premiership’s top four and hopeful of staying there.
Richard Hill is a former England international and a coach at Saracens, who play USA Eagles at the Honourable Artillery Company grounds on Tuesday 9 November at 2pm. Tickets start at £30 and are available on 01727 792 800.