Randell: Stuart Lancaster's lads sure to bomb

Last updated 05:00 01/06/2014
Stuart Lancaster
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GOOD OPERATOR: After 28 internationals as England coach, Stuart Lancaster has a handy winning percentage of 64.

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OPINION: Let's be blunt about this - the England team that has turned up to play the opening test against the All Blacks is just another sign of disrespect to New Zealand rugby from the northern hemisphere.

Teams from north of the equator have had a long history of sending second-rate teams south, using a variety of excuses.

The first wave of England players have arrived without the stars who played their club final overnight.

It represents another B-grade team who should get slaughtered in the series opener in Auckland next Saturday.

What annoys me most about this is that, by and large, New Zealand rugby views our end-of-year tours north as a highlight and select accordingly - the best All Blacks get on the plane and do the jersey proud.

We offer respect but it's simply not reciprocated.

Sadly, it's hard to see this situation changing. The IRB appear incapable of implementing a global season and the sport's governing body seems to succeed despite itself.

I wonder if it's not time for the New Zealand Rugby Union to start dealing with the English clubs. They are clearly the real powerbrokers of the game there.

The English union can't twist any arms to get things moving and nothing is going to change while the current structures are in place.

The NZRU often gets a bit of stick but in general they do a good job governing the game here.

New Zealand doesn't hesitate to make decisions, nor does a proud rugby country like South Africa. Yet we are hampered by a lack of decisiveness at the top level.

It's important that the All Blacks make a statement in this test series.

Despite being under-strength, England are still making strong noises about next week and the series in general. That's not unusual.

With the defence of the World Cup now just over a year away in England, the All Blacks can't afford to allow the men in white any momentum against us.

The last time England turned up here with a full-strength outfit was in 2003. Sir Clive Woodward used that as a warmup for the World Cup in Australia a few months later and came away with a rare win in Wellington.

That was a victory that gave the English the belief that they could win the World Cup - and they did exactly that.

I have a lot of time for England coach Stuart Lancaster though I can't help thinking he's being asked to fight a battle with one arm tied behind his back a lot of the time.

As a team, England have made a bit of progress under his guidance though I still think they are guilty of an age-old habit of talking themselves up.

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They need to consider the facts before they get too carried away without a ball being kicked in anger.

Three consecutive tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand and a midweek game against our most successful Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders, represents a massive challenge.

They've already handicapped themselves by arriving to play at Eden Park, a graveyard for touring sides, without their best side.

All Black teams can be guilty of rusty first-up performances and England may have missed their best chance on this tour, simply because of politics.

By the time the cavalry arrives for the second test, it may be too late. Lancaster will be asked to mould his best players in just a few days for a clash against an All Blacks side that will be better for having a game under their belt.

Then consider the second test venue in Dunedin. Playing indoors hands all the advantage to the All Blacks and their love of running rugby. The All Blacks could run up a big score there if they click and psychologically that would be a bitter blow to the English.

The third test in Hamilton might feel like "home" for England. If it's not raining, there's certain to be heavy dew. But it might be a game too far for them by then.

This may sound harsh. This may sound disrespectful. But I'm so sickened by another second-rate touring team turning up on our shores, I hope England get belted.

- Sunday News


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