- 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
So, the series opener between New Zealand and England at Eden Park lived up to the considerable hype and produced a hugely tense encounter that went right to the wire. In the end, the winning instinct of Steve Hansen's All Blacks came through as a 78th-minute try from Conrad Smith proved just enough to sink the tourists and take a 1-0 lead.
From Chris Robshaw's break in the first few seconds right until Nigel Owens sounded the final whistle, it was a phenomenal contest and a fitting start to what promises to be an exhilarating trio of Tests. Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, a venue with a reputation for fast-paced, high-scoring games, is the next stop.
With Graham Rowntree clearly pleased with his pack's set-piece dominance and dynamism, there is only one change to England's forwards. Tom Wood replaces James Haskell, meaning the likes of Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola form a formidable bench. The backline sees a bigger re-jig with Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell – a quartet that excelled during the recent RBS 6 Nations – brought back in. Manu Tuilagi is shifted to the wing as well.
The return of hulking Hurricane Julian Savea, who has recovered from a knee problem, is New Zealand's sole tweak. Israel Dagg's thigh strain stops him making the starting line-up, but the addition of prolific Savea – 19 tries in 20 Tests – and shifting Ben Smith to full back hardly hampers Steve Hansen. We are surely set for another exceptional occasion.
When? Saturday, June 14
Where? Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
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. Ben Smith, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 11. Julian Savea, 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.
Replacements: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Patrick Tuipolotu, 20. Victor Vito, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Malakai Fekitoa.
Photo: Getty Images
England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Manu Tuilagi, 13. Luther Burrell, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. Geoff Parling, 6. Tom Wood, 7. Chris Robshaw (captain), 8. Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 16. Dylan Hartley, 17. Matt Mullan, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Courtney Lawes, 20. Billy Vunipola, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Freddie Burns, 23. Chris Ashton.
Richie McCaw vs. Chris Robshaw: Two skippers, two openside flankers, two influential leaders who consistently inspire their troops. McCaw may be more experienced – last Saturday was his 111th win in the black shirt – but he will also have spent this week determined to improve on what was a rather quiet individual effort. Though Jerome Kaino and Liam Messam brought sheer physicality to the table, New Zealand's captain could not quite make a mark on the breakdown as he has so often in big games.
Robshaw, on the other hand, was relentless. Ten carries included one clean break and another half-break, while he also hit 25 rucks to stall the hosts at crucial moments. Again a pair of number sevens will see a great deal of each other all over the field. Whoever gets on top will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
Aaron Smith vs. Danny Care: Contestable kicks are New Zealand's primary weapon and Smith put in a masterclass at Eden Park, hanging perfectly-weighted box-kicks high for his wings to chase. The Highlanders scrum half is certain to hone in on Tuilagi's wing in the early stages. Pigeonholing Smith solely as a kicking half back would be mightily misguided, though. He is also a superb sniper around the fringes and arguably the best passer on the planet.
That said, Care demonstrated some phenomenal attacking form during this spring's RBS 6 Nations. His opportunism brought a great deal of success – tap-and-go penalties injecting England with verve and a couple of drop-goals ticking over the scoreboard nicely. There was also a fine support line to link up with Mike Brown and snatch the try that overturned Ireland. All in all, the Harlequin is extremely dangerous as part of this athletic England side. Now he can show that against the world champions.
Photo: Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu vs. Billy Twelvetrees: It is probably fair to say that Nonu's display in Auckland defined the uncertainty and inaccuracy of the hosts. Perhaps lucky to escape a yellow card after an early shirt-tug on Haskell, the centre endured an 89th cap to forget that was blighted by an overhit kick, poor passing and a couple of handling errors. His uncharacteristically poor performance ended just before the hour mark when he was replaced by debutant Malakai Fekitoa.
As Mike Catt and the entire England set-up have stressed this week though, classy players do not turn out two underwhelming showings in a row. Over an ankle complaint, Twelvetrees will face a fired-up opponent with a point to prove. But the Gloucester Rugby man should be just as intent on an influential outing. Reunited with RBS 6 Nations partner Luther Burrell, he will bring cool organisation and a kicking option to aid England's game-management.
Quotes from the camps
Steve Hansen (New Zealand Head Coach): "We have worked hard on our skill-sets, attitude and the detail in our game, which wasn’t up to All Blacks standard last week.
"Our mindset this week has been all about improvement, taking ownership and responsibility for our individual roles with the aim of delivering a team performance we can all be proud of."
Stuart Lancaster (England Head Coach): "It’s not too bold a statement to say that we’ll need to be at least 20 per cent better, because that’s what the All Blacks will be and last time we didn't get over the line.
"Game management in the last 10 minutes is important. Defensive decision-making at the breakdown and managing the referee are other areas. We’ve talked about getting a lot of things right this week and we’ll have to be accurate to win the game."
- June 2014: New Zealand 20 England 15, Eden Park
- 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
Did you know?
- Seven Super 15 matches at this venue in 2014 have seen a total of 45 tries. New Zealand's last Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium was a 41-33 win over Australia
- Owen Farrell needs 11 points to leapfrog Charlie Hodgson into sixth place on the all-time list of England point scorers
- Back in 2009, Manu Tuilagi started on the wing for England Under 18 in a 63-0 win over Scotland. Farrell and Billy Vunipola also featured
- Jerome Kaino (American Samoa) and Malakai Fekitoa (Tonga) are the only members of the All Blacks match-day 23 to be born outside of New Zealand
- Kaino, who wins his 50th cap in Dunedin, played in every game of New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup win and was only on the sidelines for the final seconds of the semi-final against Australia