This weekend

Finally! All Blacks unleash centres of attention for blockbuster England Test

January 3, 2019

image

Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue during an All Blacks squad announcement.Source:Getty Images

SONNY Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue will finally be unleashed in the All Blacks midfield as coach Steve Hansen unveiled a powerful lineup to play England in a blockbuster Test that has been four years in the making.

Hansen has made no secret of his desire to use Williams and Goodhue as his starting centres this season but those plans have been repeatedly scuppered through a combination of injury and illness.

Barring another late setback, they will form an imposing challenge to Eddie Jones’ England in the first Test between the two teams since 2014.

The top All Blacks spent extra time in London preparing for Sunday’s (2am AEDT) Twickenham Test while the second stringers beat Japan 69-31 in Tokyo last weekend.

Karl Tu’inukuafe will start at looshead prop after Joe Moody’s freak eye injury while halfback Aaron Smith has regained his No 9 jersey from TJ Perenara.

Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane form the same back three that beat Australia in Yokohama while hooker Dane Coles earns a place on the bench after making his comeback against the Brave Blossoms.

“There’s huge anticipation at what lies ahead on Saturday (local time) and the team is certainly looking forward to the challenge of the weekend,” Hansen said.

“Our week’s preparation has been very good.

“We’ve spent the early part of our week getting our preparation right and clarity of our roles and been building throughout the week so we’re ready to go on Saturday.

“We know we’ll be up against a very determined and well coached English side.

“They’ll have gained a lot of confidence from their win over South Africa and be keen to make a statement in front of their passionate Twickenham home crowd.

“However, 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 throughout the game.

“It’s a great opportunity to assess where our game is at and we’re really looking forward to it.”

ALL BLACKS (15-1): Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafe

Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty

This weekend

This weekend’s Test rugby action.Source:FOX SPORTS