Savea and Romano back to power up All Blacks

By Patrick McKendry of APNZ in London

Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images.
Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images.

Julian Savea on the left wing, Luke Romano and Steven Luatua on the reserves bench - the All Blacks are ready to fight fire with fire against the English at Twickenham on Sunday morning.

Savea predictably returns after flu ruled him out of last weekend's 26-19 win over the French in Paris, with lock Romano playing in his first test since suffering his groin problem early in the Rugby Championship test against Australia in Sydney in August.

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Coach Steve Hansen said he was happy with the way Cory Jane played on the wing in Savea's absence, but Jane's lack of match fitness and a slight knock meant it was a straightforward decision. Charles Piutau's performance on the other wing in his last two tests meant he was a virtual automatic selection.

The addition of Savea, Romano and flanker Luatua, at the expense of loose forward Sam Cane, gives the All Blacks size and power against an England team likely to be scenting blood after watching Hansen's men getting pushed around at the Stade de France.

Their big pack also set up last year's shock win at Twickenham.

"Once we decided it was time to get Luke back out on the track then we had to decide whether we took a big loosie or a fetcher,'' Hansen said. "Although we feel the English are really strong over the ball, they don't have a dead-set fetcher like a [Michael] Hooper or a [Liam] Gill or even a [Richie] McCaw, for that matter. We felt we could do with the extra height in the lineout. Logically we wouldn't be subbing Richie anyway so we felt it was a better mix for this particular game.''

Liam Messam will cover McCaw's openside position if the skipper is injured.
Hansen said he was expecting a brutal opening to the test.

"The first half hour to 50 minutes is going to be torrid,'' Hansen said. "It could be that it goes right down to the wire. They've got a self belief because of last year and we've got a desire that's pretty high because of last year and both those indicators will tell you that your preparation will be good, it will be genuine and it will be bone deep. And then it comes down to delivering on the day and how you can cope with it.''

Dan Carter will celebrate his 100th test with a start at first-five. Hooker Keven Mealamu retains his place in the No2 jersey, with Dane Coles his back-up.

All Blacks team to play England at Twickenham on Sunday, kick-off 3.30am NZT is: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Luke Romano, Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty.

- APNZ

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