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New Zealand deploy the big guns in bid to 'make a statement' against England

A week out from their clash with Ireland in Dublin, New Zealand will be in action at Twickenham on Saturday.

NEW ZEALAND HAVE signalled their attacking intent against England by naming two playmakers in a full-strength side for Saturday’s blockbuster Test at Twickenham.

Two-time world player of the year Beauden Barrett and mercurial youngster Damian McKenzie will both start in the one-off Test in London.

Japan New Zealand Australia Rugby The All Blacks perform the haka before their recent win against Australia. Source: Shuji Kajiyama

As expected, the run-on XV has no players from the second-string All Blacks side that beat Japan 69-31 last week in Tokyo.

It more closely resembles the side that defeated Australia 37-20 a week earlier in Yokohama, with Barrett again starting at out-half and McKenzie at full-back.

Coach Steve Hansen said either player could marshall the attack, making the world champions difficult to predict for defensively minded teams such as England.

“We think against sides that play a little differently than we do, having two playmakers makes it a lot harder for them to shut us down,” he told reporters.

“It also takes away the frustration of that person who is shut down when he’s out there solo. It takes that away because he’s got someone else to take a bit of the heat.”

The starting side has four changes from the side that faced Australia, one of them forced by injury this week when prop Joe Moody tore his eyelid at training, opening the way for Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Regular starters Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith return at lock and half-back respectively, replacing Scott Barrett and TJ Perenara. Jack Goodhue returns to the centre after a bout of glandular fever, relegating Crusaders teammate Ryan Crotty to the bench.

RUGBY ALL BLACKS MEDIA OPP New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen. Source: AAP/PA Images

Hansen said the All Blacks wanted to “make a statement” at Twickenham, where they have only been beaten once since 2015.

“England at home is always a massive challenge for anyone,” he said. “There’ll be 80,000 people there. For us it’s about making our own statement. To do that, we’ll need to bring our own intensity and accuracy to an even higher level.”

New Zealand (v England):

15. Damian McKenzie
14. Ben Smith
13. Jack Goodhue
12. Sonny Bill Williams
11. Rieko Ioane
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith

8. Kieran Read (captain)
7. Ardie Savea
6. Liam Squire
5. Brodie Retallick
4. Sam Whitelock
3. Owen Franks
2. Codie Taylor
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements:

16. Dane Coles
17. Ofa Tuungafasi
18. Nepo Laulala
19. Scott Barrett
20. Matt Todd
21. TJ Perenara
22. Richie Mo’unga
23. Ryan Crotty

© – AFP, 2018

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