In one selection, that of Damian McKenzie at fullback, the expected clash of styles at Twickenham will play out.

This weekend, in theory, you have the world's best attacking team – and England attempting to squeeze the life out of them.

McKenzie's second start of the year at fullback signals the All Blacks won't deviate from their script just because England present a vastly different picture from anything they've faced this year.

They won't be bullied into a game of tic-tac-toe.


McKenzie brings risk in the form of having a crack when it is not always on; reward in relieving pressure on Beauden Barrett, offering another kicking option and usually being brave and assured under the high ball.

The diminutive Chiefs playmaker must, however, pick the right moments to have a go.

Get his timing wrong on one of those unpredictable cross-field runs which can put pressure on others and tension will rise.

"Everybody in our team has a clear licence to play what's in front of them," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. "That's how I got brought up playing. The opposition tells you what you can and can't do.

"Damian doesn't miss too many opportunities so I'm assuming we'll see it at some point."

McKenzie will get plenty of chances to launch counters, with the All Blacks bracing for aerial bombardment.

Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie. Photo / Getty
Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie. Photo / Getty

Should England adopt similar tactics from the Springboks last weekend, it will again be a kicking, mauling, defence-based approach.

"A lot of people can get caught up and think they kick it all the time and it's pretty negative rugby but they don't give you many opportunities to do things because of the way they play.


"They pride themselves on that and they hang in there."

The Boks, with hooker Malcolm Marx twice guilty of throwing long on England's line, blew at least three try-scoring chances.

Show enough patience, and the All Blacks are unlikely to be so wasteful.

"If we don't take our opportunities they'll have the ability to bite us too. It's going to be a real challenge and a battle mentally.

"They may come out and trick us and play expansive, running rugby, but I don't think so."
Richie Mo'unga's emergence has, naturally, played a major role in altering plans with McKenzie this year.

While now considered third in line at No 10, as long as Ben Smith is preferred on the wing McKenzie appears first-choice fullback.

"Do we want Damian to continue playing first five-eighth? Yep, because it gives him the ability to play what we want as a two driving game. Those skills are still going to be needed if he plays fullback."

The All Blacks are of the firm belief that two playmakers – three, possibly, if Mo'unga combines with Barrett and McKenzie – makes them much more difficult to close down.

The more freedom they give Barrett to spark his natural game, the more dangerous the All Blacks become.

Damian McKenzie on the charge against the Pumas in Nelson. Photo / Photosport
Damian McKenzie on the charge against the Pumas in Nelson. Photo / Photosport

"At the Hurricanes they don't have the same luxury of having two drivers and I'd say Beauden found at times he's been a bit frustrated there.

"It's a learning curve for him as a player. He's still in his infancy as a five-eight. We tend to forget he really hasn't been there for a long time in his career – four years is not a long time.

"It's the same for Richie too. They both want to play footy. Damian is the same. They love running the ball as opposed to using their kicking options. If you've only got one kicker it's easy to shut down those kicking options too.

"From a team point of view, it just becomes a lot easier to do what we want to do."