England, All Blacks have points to prove in Dunedin
Hansen remarked that one of the reasons why he had refused to make wholesale changes from last week’s team was because had he dropped everyone who played badly, he would not have been able to field a side for the game that kicks off at 0735 GMT.
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact we did win the test but at the same time they’re very proud people who want to play a game we can all be proud of and last week we weren’t proud of our performance,” Hansen told reporters in Dunedin on Thursday.
“The guys were very disappointed with the way they played (and)… this week… there’s a lot more intensity and purpose about what we’ve done.
“There are not too many times All Black teams play poorly and don’t respond in some fashion.”
Bullocking winger Julian Savea, who returns from a minor knee injury, is the only personnel change from last week and will face the powerful Manu Tuilagi, shifted to the wing from centre, in one of the more mouth-watering head-to-head clashes of the match.
While England coach Stuart Lancaster said he had been pleased with Tuilagi’s acceptance of the new role, Hansen felt the move could be an opportunity to exploit, particularly if flyhalf Aaron Cruden’s kicking game is in sync with the All Blacks chasers.
“On the wing, he’s going to have to work,” Hansen added.
“Wing is a totally different position than centre in that he can go wherever he wants to go, but at the same time he’s got to have the energy to do that.”
England’s immediate goal is to demonstrate their re-jigged team can challenge a virtually full-strength All Blacks side, who have now been together for two weeks and theoretically should have ironed out their performance issues in training.
A series-levelling victory by a team closer to his own ‘first-choice’ would also vindicate coach Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup plans, where he had openly said despite the strong performances from several players considered ‘second-string’ last week, they would likely have to make way in Dunedin.
“We knew selection for this test was always going to be tough, with the players who played at Eden Park putting their hands up and those who watched from the stands,” Lancaster said.
“With the (mid-week) Crusaders game coming up around the corner and the third test in Hamilton, all our squad will get opportunities which will be great experience as we continue to develop our depth in the build up to the World Cup.”
Blindside flanker Tom Wood was the only change in the starting pack, though Lancaster has added experience and bulk to the forwards on the bench, bringing in hooker Dylan Hartley, lock Courteny Lawes and number eight Billy Vunipola.
All missed the first test after arriving late in the country following the English club final.
Owen Farell and Danny Care return as the preferred halves combination, while Lancaster has reinstated Six Nations centres pairing Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell to accommodate Tuilagi’s move to the wing.
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New Zealand – 15-Ben Smith, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma’a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Aaron Cruden, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Jerome Kaino, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 6-Liam Messam, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Victor Vito, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Malakai Fekitoa
England – 15-Mike Brown, 14-Manu Tuilagi, 13-Luther Burrell, 12-Billy Twelvetrees, 11-Marland Yarde, 10-Owen Farrell, 9-Danny Care; 8-Ben Morgan, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-Tom Wood, 5-Geoff Parling, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-David Wilson, 2-Rob Webber, 1-Joe Marler
Replacements: 16-Dylan Hartley, 17-Matt Mullan, 18-Kieran Brookes, 19-Courtney Lawes, 20-Billy Vunipola, 21-Ben Youngs, 22-Freddie Burns, 23-Chris Ashton
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)