- Get up to speed on when, where and how to watch New Zealand vs. England
- Read about the key battles and quotes from each camp
Photo: Getty Images
The anticipation and discussion surrounding England’s tour to New Zealand has been bubbling since the end of the RBS 6 Nations. Stuart Lancaster has been diligently preparing for much longer than that – when he took up his role in January 2012, this trip had already been earmarked as an acid test of progress.
Following a first Triple Crown in 11 years, his charges arrived in the Land of the Long White Cloud with a sense of optimism and new-found attacking dynamism. Although scheduling and injuries mean there are many established internationals absent from the first Test squad, Chris Robshaw and co. are hopeful of a historic win to start a triple-header of exhilarating encounters against the world champion All Blacks.
They start at Eden Park in Auckland, where the hosts have not lost since 1994 – the occasion of Jonah Lomu’s second cap. Richie McCaw, a man with 110 Test victories to his name, leads a New Zealand side seeking to improve on a perfect 2013 that saw 14 consecutive successes. We are in for a special contest.
When? Saturday, June 7
Where? Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off? 8.35am BST
How to keep up with the action
- Live on SKY Sports 1 from 8am. Regular updates on BBC Five Live
- Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search iTunes for Official RFU)
- Live score updates from @EnglandRugby on Twitter
- Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on RFU.com
New Zealand: 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Ben Smith, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 11. Cory Jane, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. sam Whitelock, 6. Liam Messam, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 8. Jerome Kaino (captain).
Replacements: 16. Keven Mealaumu, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Patrick Tuipolotu, 20. Victor Vito, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Malakai Fekitoa.
England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Marland Yarde, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Kyle Eastmond, 11. Jonny May, 10. Freddie Burns, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. Geoff Parling, 6. James Haskell, 7. Chris Robshaw (captain), 8. Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 16. Joe Gray, 17. Matt Mullan, 18. Henry Thomas, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Tom Johnson, 21. Lee Dickson, 22. Danny Cipriani, 23. Chris Pennell.
- November 2013: England 22 New Zealand 30, Twickenham
- December 2012: England 38 New Zealand 21, Twickenham
- November 2010: England 16 New Zealand 26, Twickenham
- November 2009: England 6 New Zealand 19, Twickenham
- November 2008: England 6 New Zealand 32, Twickenham
Sam Whitelock vs. Geoff Parling: Alongside Brodie Retallick, Whitelock has grown into one half of an muscular, mobile second-row partnership that is both brawny enough to marshal the tight exchanges and skillful enough to act as a pair of dextrous links in the loose. Still just 25, he has accrued 51 caps. Surely a mountain more are to come.
Photo: Getty Images
Parling has passed 30 and comes into this fixture without a start in international rugby since the third Lions Test against Australia 11 months ago. That said, he is one of the world's premier lineout technicians who punches well above his weight and has happy memories of facing New Zealand after an 80-minute shift in the 38-21 victory for Stuart Lancaster's last July. Following a domestic campaign ravaged by injury, he is fresh and raring to go.
Aaron Cruden vs. Freddie Burns: Steve Hansen's call to entrust Cruden with the No.10 shirt was not universally popular in New Zealand. The Chiefs pivot has only just returned from a broken thumb, while Beauden Barrett is one of the Super 15's form players and has directed high-flying Hurricanes with aplomb in the Super 15. Still, as the man who kicked the conversion to beat Ireland back in November and clinch the All Blacks' perfect 2013, Cruden has plenty of credit in the bank. Given a vastly experienced midfield partnership of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith lurks outside him, he should slot back in quickly.
Opposite number Burns made his Test debut New Zealand's record reverse 18 months ago, slotting two neat penalties in an assured, impressive cameo. There have only been two more caps since then – both starts in Argentina – and while he was again excellent, Eden Park is a totally different proposition. Handed the reins ahead of Danny Cipriani, the 24 year-old has a chance to reignite his England career with Rugby World Cup 2015 around the corner. Undoubtedly talented, he has excelled in training and is certainly capable of doing just that.
The benches: International rugby has long been a contest decided by the depth of match-day 23s rather than just the 15 men who take the field at the start of any given contest. The RBS 6 Nations evidenced that and the coming month will almost certainly add substance to such a pattern. At Eden Park, the All Blacks have three precocious potential debutants among their replacements – lock Patrick Tuipulotu, scrum half TJ Perenara and centre Malakai Fekitoa. All have demonstrated consistency during the Super 15 and, with Barrett, Keven Mealaumu, Charles Faumuina and Wyatt Crockett also waiting in the wings, Hansen has great flexibility to call upon.
In Chris Pennell and Joe Gray there are two more men set for maiden caps among England's replacements. Though Gray has been injured for the majority of this season, the Harlequins hooker toured South Africa in 2012 and has caught the eye in training with proficient lineout delivery in particular. Although Worcester Warriors were eventually relegated from the Aviva Premiership, Pennell provided plenty of highlight reel moments and can be confident of making an impact in whatever situation he enters the fray. Dave Attwood and Tom Johnson will surely be called upon in the second period and, as they showed this spring, are able to add intensity and physicality.
Quotes from the camps
Steve Hansen (New Zealand Head Coach): "The other reality point is that this England side can do some things better than we can. We need to make sure we improve in those areas.
Photo: Getty Images
"There are teams out there who are well and truly capable of beating us, so we have to make sure we’ve done all the homework we need to do."
Stuart Lancaster (England Head Coach): "They will come out firing for the first Test. They have a lot of players who are in form from the Super 15 and, bar Kieran Read, they are pretty much at full strength.
"We have some players whose season finished a week ago, some whose season finished five weeks ago. It’s a completely different scenario but I’m not going to complain about it – I trust the players we’ve got and hopefully I’ll have some tough selection decisions to make."
Did you know?
- Malakai Fekitoa, who will make his New Zealand Test debut if his comes off the bench, attended Wesley College in Auckland – alma mater of Jonah Lomu
- Danny Cipriani’s last appearance in an England shirt came against New Zealand back in November 2008 as a 74th-minute replacement
- Billy Twelvetrees was England's top try-scorer in 2013 with three. Mike Brown has already dotted down four times in 2014
- Richie McCaw needs one more try to equal the record of most tries by a forward (from Tier 1 nations). He currently has 21, one behind former Wales international Colin Charvis
- England have scored at least two tries in each of their last five away games
- New Zealand have won 31 straight matches at Eden Park since 1995