Monster wings set to collide in Dunedin test

11:48, Jun 12 2014
Conrad Smith
An elated Conrad Smith after diving over for the match-winning try in the 78th minute.
All Blacks
All Blacks Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara and Jerome Kaino appeal to the referee to blow the final whistle.
Cory Jane
Cory Jane (right) chips ahead under pressure from Marland Yarde.
Brodie Retallick
England's Joe Launchbury (right) and All Black Brodie Retallick attempt to coral a kick-off.
Brodie Retallick
All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick on the charge in the second half.
Israel Dagg
Fullback Israel Dagg evades one England tackle as he runs the ball back.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg competes with Manu Tuilagi for the ball over the All Blacks try-line. Tuilagi won the race.
Aaron Cruden
Aaron Cruden, who accounted for 15 All Blacks points, lines up a penalty kick.
Mike Brown
England's Mike Brown knocks Richie McCaw to the ground.
Richie McCaw
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw gets a hug from Keven Mealamu after the final whistle.
Freddie Burns
England No 10 Freddie Burns gets a clearing kick away under pressure from Jerome Kaino.
Ben Smith
All Blacks wing Ben Smith tries to kick out of an English tackle.

This should be good.

On the England right wing you have Manusamoa Tuilagi, a 112kg force of ball-carrying nature. And staring him down on the All Black left wing is Julian ''the Bus'' Savea, 106kg of straight running, slick stepping fury.

It's the premium matchup within the matchup at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night for those who like their rugby fast and furious.

THE BUS: All Black wing Julian Savea has a juicy match-up in store with England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi In Dunedin on Saturday night.
THE BUS: All Black wing Julian Savea has a juicy match-up in store with England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi In Dunedin on Saturday night.

England, a test down and knocking on the door of another famous All Black upset, have shifted their best ball-carrier to the wing to accommodate a new midfield combination of Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell.

That will see Tuilagi, a metre-eater from Eden Park, matched up against Savea, who is back in the All Blacks lineup after sitting out last week's opening test with bruising round his knee.

It's no stretch to say the New Zealanders missed the big Wellingtonian horrendously, the whole balance of their back three appearing to be tilted off kilter.


''It's a good challenge,'' said Savea of his surprise matchup against Tuilagi in a rejigged All Balck back three alongside Ben Smith and Cory Jane.

''He's probably one of the in-form players at the moment, and he's a strong character. I'll be excited. I love a good challenge, the whole team loves a good challenge, and that's what this week is all about. We've got to work towards that challenge.''

Savea said it had been tough watching from the stands last Saturday night, especially with so many uncharacteristic basic errors peppering the All Blacks game.

''The main thing we talked about was our skillsets. We were really hard on ourselves this week. Our standards really dropped last weekend, but in saying that I was really proud of the boys getting the win, and we can only get better.''

Asked what he wanted from Ben Smith on the hometown hero's shift to fullback, Savea was unequivocal.

''Just a lot of talk. I want him to bring his game. We have our standards as team and individuals, but what's great about this team is we all just do our own roles and everything should fall into place. All I'm expecting is Bender and Cory [Jane] do their jobs and everything should go well.''

In terms of what he wants to bring on the left wing, where he's scored a remarkable 19 tries in just 20 tests (including a game-clincher against England last November), Savea shrugged off any suggestions the All Blacks needed him to be a gain-line monster the way Tuilagi was for England last weekend.

''It's just doing my role,'' he said.

''I don't need to do too much else. I don't need to kick the ball when I don't need to, just carry. I've got details I've nailed within our game-plan. It's doing my core roles, feeding information when the boys need it and we'll see how it goes.''

After an outing where the All Black backs were strangely off key, Savea's return should help settle things. He brings the carry, the X-factor and the finishing ability that was badly missing at Eden Park.

He'll also have an important defensive assignment to wrap up the dangerous Tuilagi whenever he tucks that ball and charges upfield.

England feed off the confidence generated by their big Samoan-born carry merchant. It will be Savea's job to deny the visitors that lift.

By the looks of it he's relishing the prospect.