England face a daunting challenge against the world champion All Blacks but head coach Stuart Lancaster will know his side will need to front up physically if they are to have any chance of victory.
Lancaster’s men are 9/4 with Ladbrokes for the win at Twickenham, while New Zealand are 1/3 favourites for success but if the odds are to be upset it will be the home side’s forwards that play a huge part.
Here Ladbrokes News picks the men who will have to put in a monumental shift against the world’s number one ranked side in west London…
1. Joe Marler – Harlequins
Injuries have plagued England’s options at prop but having Joe Marler fit to take his place in the number one jersey is a real boost to Stuart Lancaster. Now the Harlequins captain, Marler has become a key component in the current England side and he will play a vital part in trying to gain England dominance in the scrum.
2. Dylan Hartley – Northampton
Another player who has captained his club side, Hartley’s experience will be crucial to England’s chances. Rob Webber has performed brilliantly for Bath so far this season so Hartley, who has 57 caps to his name, will have to be on his toes if he is to keep hold of the hooker’s jersey heading into next year’s Six Nations and the World Cup. With his own performance poor back in June in Hamilton he will be desperate to put in a much improved shift against the All Blacks but must keep his temper in check.
3. David Wilson – Bath
Wilson has continued his impressive form from last season with some excellent performances for Bath and he has been rewarded with a place in our front three. Strong in the scrum, the tighthead prop has 37 England caps and will be desperate to enhance his credentials in the absence of the injured Dan Cole.
4. Dave Attwood – Bath
New cap George Kruis has impressed after joining up with England for the first time and is on stand-by, but should there be no complications with the birth of Attwood’s baby – his wife went into labour on Tuesday – then the Bath lock will take his place in the starting XV. Another involved in Bath’s impressive start to the season and his power will be a huge asset at scrum time.
5. Courtney Lawes – Northampton
The Northampton Saints star is now one of the more experienced players in England’s pack and after Joe Launchberry was ruled out of the autumn series through injury, he will be vital to England’s chances of victory. With the less mobile Attwood next to him, Lawes will have to put in a huge shift around the park but we have come to expect nothing more from the man who smashes fly-halves for fun!
6. Tom Wood – Northampton
The Northampton flanker has started 19 of England’s last 20 matches and has become an important part of Lancaster’s back row machine. There is no shortage of alternatives at the back of England’s scrum with James Haskell and Calum Clark both pushing for a starting berth but Wood is the man who does plenty of dirty work for his side. His ball carries and work at the breakdown will be vital if England are to repeat their win of two years ago against the All Blacks.
7. Chris Robshaw, Captain – Harlequins
While it would have been interesting to see last season’s European Player of the Year Steffon Armitage line up for England in the number seven jersey there is no doubting Robshaw’s importance to Lancaster’s side. His leadership qualities are immense and his performances with the Red Rose on his chest in the last 12 months warrant his place in the side and as captain. His battle with Richie McCaw will prove crucial in the outcome of this encounter.
8. Billy Vunipola – Saracens
If you need someone to go toe-to-toe with the physicality of the All Blacks then the Saracens number eight is your man. Vunipola has already revealed that he is looking forward to facing up to everything the All Blacks want to throw at him – including the Haka. If England are to have any success in this match they will need Vunipola on top of his game as his ball carrying and off-load skills will be vital if England are to get over the gain line and onto the front foot.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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