England can set the tone for their next nine months by beating New Zealand

England can set the tone for their next nine months by beating New Zealand
England can set the tone for their next nine months by beating New Zealand

IIt is truly a sign of our turbulent times that the UK have had more prime ministers in three months than the All Blacks have faced England in eight years. Almost as striking is the fact that Britain was firmly in the EU and that David Cameron was still in Downing Street when Eddie Jones started his tenure at Twickenham. When people question the inconsistency of England’s oval ball, it’s a clearly relative observation.

Amid the political and economic maelstrom, however, some things never change. The All Blacks still despise the loss to England and the memories of the two sides last meeting, in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, haven’t completely faded. Jones’ side never performed better than that night in Yokohama and you could argue that New Zealand never fully recovered either.

It all adds an extra thrill to this long-awaited black and white reunion. England have finally chosen a team capable of wreaking havoc while the All Blacks cannot afford to sign obediently. A chilly evening awaits, but the action should be as fiery as anything the old cabbage patch has seen in a while.

That’s partly because Jones and England know a decent result will make their lives easier over the next nine months. For all the disapproving talk from onlookers overreacting to setbacks, some post-victory excitement would boost morale at a pivotal moment. This England side need some momentum to propel themselves towards the next World Cup in 2023, whatever all the tactical gems Jones says he is holding back for next year’s tournament.

There is also the little question of belief. The loss to Argentina was a significant setback, although England performed less well under Jones and won. Last week’s outing against a standout Japan was even more tricky from which to draw any definitive conclusions. Now, finally, we’re about to get a good look at where England really stands.

Because, despite all the wisdom received about New Zealand’s steady decline, the visitors have won their last six Tests in a row and are no longer as obviously vulnerable as they looked in July. Their new forwards coach, Jason Ryan, had a noticeable impact, and Joe Schmidt also helped tighten a few other tactical nuts and bolts. Is anyone seriously suggesting that Ardie Savea is shit or that Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are kitties these days?

Which forces England to demonstrate that its own pack has regained its bulldog growl. In theory, the signs look positive, especially when it comes to dynamic ball carrying. If Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Sam Simmonds and Billy Vunipola aren’t taking the ball hard and often, Jones will want to know why.

England believe Sam Simmonds can form an effective combination with Billy Vunipola against New Zealand. Photography: David Rogers/Getty Images

Finally, there’s also the potential for Simmonds to pose the kind of problems that made him European Club Player of the Year in 2020. Exeter’s Rob Baxter has long argued that dragging Simmonds into a system that doesn’t does not suit him is counter-productive. Now, at last, he has the opportunity to match Billy Vunipola in the same way he often did with Dave Ewers at club level.

If that leaves England a bit short on starting line-up options, so be it. Among the lasting images from Yokohama and New Zealand’s last visit to Twickenham in 2018, when visitors snuck home 16-15, Sam Underhill was buzzing and bringing an infectious tempo and energy. If Simmonds and Tom Curry can do something similar this time, England’s full-backs will be suitably grateful.

And while it’s still true that England’s optimal starting center duo are Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade in top form, Jones has most of his best players available for this particular assignment. His future centurion Owen Farrell and wingers Jack Nowell and Jonny May know exactly what to expect and the sharp Jack van Poortvliet provides a new threat at No 9. With Freddie Steward in form at the back, there is an air of goal which strongly alludes to a crisp meeting.

It is therefore enough to have the necessary state of mind, in particular the conviction that a black jersey is not very scary. Increasingly influential Genge, who says he was treating an infected tooth in a trailer in Devon in 2012 when England last beat New Zealand at Twickenham, may be right when he says England play better when they just go out and let it go. “I think we’re at our best when we don’t overthink things,” said the Bristol stalwart, now England’s official vice-captain with Nowell.

That adds up to a combustible perspective before you even factor in the hairy refereeing decisions that now shape so many Test matches. It will certainly be interesting to see how French referee Mathieu Raynal controls the game, having done New Zealand a big favor against Australia in Melbourne in September when he found wallaby fly-half Bernard Foley guilty. wasted time and duly enabled the All Blacks to secure an unlikely victory.

It should make for compelling viewing even if the contest doesn’t replicate the heights of last weekend’s sensational Women’s World Cup final between the same teams in Auckland. New Zealand won it narrowly, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if England won just their ninth victory over the All Blacks since the match was first played in 1905. If the visitors won by 10 points or more, only the most deluded oval ball spin doctor will be able to say that English rugby’s stock has risen since that special night in Yokohama.

. England can give your for his nine next months beating New Zealand England team rugby

. England set tone months beating Zealand