Rugby: How England can beat the All Blacks

Former England midfielder Will Greenwood believes Eddie Jones' men have what it takes to overcome the All Blacks at Twickenham on Sunday (NZ time), his faith comes with one glaring caveat.

If they play like they did against the Springboks, they have "no chance".

England failed to record a try, as they scraped past an underwhelming South Africa 12-11 on Sunday and such an effort simply won’t be enough to get past the world champion All Blacks, says Greenwood.

"I've always felt, that if you want to beat the All Blacks - unless you're playing in Wellington, when it's chucking it down with rain - you’ve got to score 30 points," he told Newshub.

"South Africa coughed up ball and turned ball over, and England didn’t score points.

"When New Zealand give you the ball, you have to score points, because you know when you give them the ball, they will score points.

"England only managed 12 against South Africa. They need to be two or three times better."

That said, Greenwood - now a commentator for Sky Sports UK - expects to see the side take a significant step up with the opening game of their international season under their belt and some new faces embedded.

"The thing that everyone forgets however, the thing that should be right at the top of the page was this lot have not played together in five months. This back row has never played together.

"The new midfield combination - one of the lads [Henry Slade] has played 28 minutes of rugby in six months.

"We're always better week two. We know we have to be better, but there's absolutely no question that we will be better."

Will Greenwood.
Will Greenwood. Photo credit: Getty

Greenwood highlighted some key areas where he thinks the All Blacks could be vulnerable and pointed at the Springboks' successful formula in Wellington as a blueprint for victory.

"There's this myth about the All Blacks that they don't make mistakes, but actually they're happy to make mistakes, because they want the tempo to be high. They feel - and they know - that their skill levels can survive at that altitude for longer periods of the game.

"What happened in Wellington was they coughed up those errors and they conceded points. Lienert-Brown and Barrett's intercepts coughed up 14 points alone.

"We'd be happy with a bit of an aerial contest on the cross-field stuff. Go high in and around those slots, and just try and create a bit of a bum fight.

"If you do that you can't underestimate 84,000 people singing 'Swing Low' and what it does to that team."

There's one player in particular who Greenwood identified as a potential target for the English.

"I think you can get to Aaron Smith, I think you can rile him. I think you can get under his skin and you can get to his box kick.

"I'm trying to find tiny details here, because he's an unbelievable player, but every time they set up a box kick, I'd go after it. Kick off long right, stick them in that bottom corner and say 'come on, get your box kick going, but we're coming'.

"[Lock Maro] Itoje and the Saracens boys are massive. They practice and train for the chargedown, and their percentage make on scrumhalves is strong."

Exactly how well England fare may be determined by the performance of lynchpin first-five Owen Farrell, who many think shouldn’t be playing in the fixture, after his alleged shoulder charge on Springbok Andre Esterhuizen on Sunday.

On Monday, Farrell avoided suspension, after being cleared by a citing commissioner in a decision that Greenwood endorses.

"I don't think there was any contact with the head. I think Esterhuizen is such a tall man that it may have been a shoulder, but it sort of hit the ball and the chest.

"I was touchline as it happened and my first instinct was penalty, absolutely.

"It's high and there no arms in it, but when you talk citings, I think you need to be looking for contact with the head being made."

Greenwood knows first-hand what it means to beat NZ, only tasting a pinch of success against them during his 55-test career.

He was also part of the 2005 British and Irish Lions team that was swept 3-0 by the All Blacks in 2005.

History will certainly be on the All Blacks' side. They've won 14 of their past 15 tests against the northern hemisphere heavyweights and long-time admirer Farrell says they deserve to be clear-cut favourites again this weekend.

"I'm a fella who will go to his grave telling his kids and his grandkids that the greatest day I ever had in an England shirt was beating the All Blacks.

"It's not meant to sound sycophantic, but they were my heroes growing up. Remove my nationality, I still simply love watching them play and I always have to make whoever's playing them second favourites.

"That doesn't change this weekend. England are massive underdogs."


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