Analysing the two teams for Saturday’s big game, how many All Blacks players would you select for England?
Here’s a Combined XV for discussion – let me know what changes you would make.
|Mako Vunipola||1||Joe Moody|
|Jamie George||2||Codie Taylor|
|Kyle Sinckler||3||Nepo Laulala|
|Maro Itoje||4||Brodie Retallick|
|Courtney Lawes||5||Sam Whitelock|
|Tom Curry||6||Scott Barrett|
|Sam Underhill||7||Ardie Savea|
|Billy Vunipola||8||Kieran Read|
|Ben Youngs||9||Aaron Smith|
|George Ford||10||Richie Mo’unga|
|Jonny May||11||George Bridge|
|Owen Farrell||12||Anton Lienert-Brown|
|Manu Tuilagi||13||Jack Goodhue|
|Anthony Watson||14||Sevu Reece|
|Elliot Daly||15||Beauden Barrett|
|Luke Cowan-Dickie||16||Dane Coles|
|Joe Marler||17||Ofa Tuingafasi|
|Dan Cole||18||Angus Ta’avao|
|George Kruis||19||Patrick Tuipolotu|
|Mark Wilson||20||Sam Cane|
|Willi Heinz||21||TJ Perenara|
|Henry Slade||22||Sonny Bill Williams|
|Jonathan Joseph||23||Jordie Barrett|
There are 8 selections from New Zealand and 7 from England: 4 from each pack, with the All Blacks backs having the edge.
I’ve chosen an all-England front row, with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock in the engine room. If Maro Itoje wasn’t squaring off with Retallick at 4, I might have him in over Whitelock, but it’s close.
In the back row, I’m surprised to see Scott Barrett making his first-ever start on the blindside flank, and I’m not sure it gives them that much. Yes they’ll put pressure on England’s lineout, and they will likely be looking to clear out England’s back row at the breakdown rather than compete for the ball, but it’s not often you see the All Blacks basing their team selection on the opposition.
Either way, I’d rather have Tom Curry in my team, but with Billy lacking a bit of form and Kieran Read looking fresh again, I’ve picked Ardie Savea and Read to complete the back row.
I’ve picked the Kiwi 9, 10 and 12, with Anton Lienert-Brown on fine form and offering more as a traditional inside centre than Owen Farell. This could have been slightly different with Farrell at 10 and Manu Tuilagi at 12, but I can see why Eddie Jones has reverted to this lineup.
It’s unusual to pick both English wings, but Jonny May is unfeasibly good, and Sevu Reece is a game-breaker but also could be vulnerable and I suspect we’ll see him targeted under the high ball with May competing in the air.
Finally, Beauden Barrett over Elliot Daly is a shoo-in at full-back.
On the bench, I’ve given the All Blacks 6 of the 8 spots, and that could well be a factor late in the game.
What do you think? Which ones do you disagree with?