England v New Zealand: Jeremy Guscott says line-outs key for win

Kyle Eastmond, Sonny Bill Williams and Semesa Rokoduguni
Kyle Eastmond and Sonny Bill Williams are likely to shine in the centre, while Semesa Rokoduguni makes his debut
Autumn international: England v New Zealand
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 8 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, online, mobile and the BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website. Highlights on BBC Three at 19:00 on Saturday.

England host world champions New Zealand on Saturday in the first of their four autumn internationals.

It will be the fourth time in a row Stuart Lancaster's men have played the All Blacks. They lost all three Tests in New Zealand in the summer but came within a single point of winning the second Test, a 28-27 defeat in Dunedin.

The All Blacks have lost just twice in their past 46 Tests but one of those defeats was 38-21 by England at Twickenham in 2012.

I said in September that hosts England look the biggest threat to defending champions New Zealand at next year's World Cup and this encounter will provide the latest test of how they measure up.

Code-switchers take centre stage

There is no doubt that Kyle Eastmond is the form creative midfielder currently in England and his inclusion at inside centre shows England's wish to attack, continuing the development of the attacking strategy they showed at home in last season's Six Nations.

Eastmond - a former rugby league international like his opposite number Sonny Bill Williams - gives England the option of a second 'first' receiver, as it were, which means they are not always reliant on fly-half Owen Farrell.

Brad Barritt is back after a long spell out of the side and he is playing out of position. He is normally an inside centre but will wear the 13 shirt on Saturday in the absence of the injured Manu Tuilagi.

Brad Barritt in action for England
Brad Barritt will be playing out of position against New Zealand at outside-centre

He is renowned for the quality of his defence and clearly England see playing him there, even out of position, as a safer option than playing Eastmond's centre partner at Bath, Jonathan Joseph.

New Zealand have twinned cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams with Conrad Smith in the centres.

Williams is a much bigger man than Eastmond - 6ft 3in and 17st 4lb versus 5ft 7in and 12st 8lb - but the Englishman will be used to playing against men that size from his time in both rugby league and union.

Sonny Bill's unfinished business

The man known as Sonny Bill to his fans is one of the star attractions on Saturday.

But even though he is one of the big names, he will be under pressure to deliver because he knows it will be a really big task to break the Ma'a Nonu/Conrad Smith axis which forms the All Blacks' first-choice centre partnership. Nonu misses this match with a broken arm.

It is good to see Williams back playing union after his spell back in the NRL because I love watching great players - and he has every chance to become a great player in union.

There is no doubt he has unfinished business because although he was part of the New Zealand squad that won the World Cup in 2011 he was not a front-line player and did not win that medal because of his own contribution.

The 2015 World Cup is on the horizon and he will have returned to the XV-man code with real hunger.

England v New Zealand
DateVenueResult
21 June 2014HamiltonNew Zealand 36 - 13 England
14 June 2014DunedinNew Zealand 28 - 27 England
7 June 2014AucklandNew Zealand 20 - 15 England
16 November 2013TwickenhamEngland 22 - 30 New Zealand
1 December 2012TwickenhamEngland 38 - 21 New Zealand

England still a work in progress

I am genuinely not concerned about England for Saturday - they have got a good strong, positive squad and they believe they are developing a strategy that will get them to number one in the world.

They might not be progressing as quickly as they like but I feel they are progressing.

Regardless of their injuries and the fact they lost three times to the All Blacks in the summer, I believe England can beat New Zealand.

It is harder for England because they lost three in a row in the summer but you have got to get over that psychological challenge.

New Zealand are the best team in the world because they play the game at a high intensity, combined with technical excellence and smart decision-making, all executed with precision.

If you can find players with these attributes in their DNA then you have a good chance of beating most teams on a regular basis, as the All Blacks have done and continue to do.

England can win this game. However, the likelihood is that they will not, so I just hope they give themselves every chance to win again.

Take the Springboks' aerial route

England must make the most of their strong line-out on Saturday.

England's Dylan Hartley practising line-outs
Strong line-outs will be key if England are to beat New Zealand

They should have noticed how much ground South Africa made off line-outs in their last game when they beat the All Blacks 27-25 in the Rugby Championship last month.

On two occasions, the Boks won clean ball off the top of line-outs on halfway, got it into the scrum-half's hands and sharply out to the three-quarters.

There were a couple of dummy runners, nothing amazing but enough to cause the New Zealand centres slight indecision, and each time it created the chance to allow full-back Willie Le Roux to get outside Conrad Smith.

I hope that has been noted by England full-back Mike Brown and his colleagues because there's absolutely no reason why England cannot do the same.

In hooker Dylan Hartley they have a precise thrower who has a number of targets in Courtney Lawes, Dave Attwood, Tom Wood or Chris Robshaw.

Stop All Blacks' back three getting their kicks

New Zealand's players have more complete skill sets than England's.

Brodie Retallick is a 6ft 8in, 19st second-row, but watch how he can take a ball at first or second receiver and make either the short-flat pass to a mate running hard and flat, or the 10-15-yard pass out the back to someone coming fast and wide.

Put it this way, it is not the sort of thing my former second-row team-mate Wade Dooley would ever have done.

New Zealand possess a potent back three. Full-back Israel Dagg is rediscovering the form that made him a superstar. He has electric pace combined with a big boot that relieves pressure and gains massive territory.

Brodie Retallick in action against South Africa
New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick offers a variety of passing options

Ben Smith is one of the most complete three-quarters you are likely to witness. He is exceptional at everything, he is a balanced runner, can step off either foot comfortably, has very good pace and kicks well when needed.

Julian Savea's try-scoring record speaks for itself. The 6ft 4in, 16½st-winger has pace to go with his power and has scored 29 tries in 30 Tests, with a remarkable eight in four matches against England.

England cannot afford to kick loosely to this trio.

Number eight Kieran Read is another special player along with captain and open-side Richie McCaw, but two seasons ago the England back row of Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan had the better of them, beating them to the breakdown and pressing them into mistakes.

Battle of the scrum-halves

Danny Care v Aaron Smith is going to be a great contest because these two livewire scrum-halves are in brilliant form.

England nine Care has matured and his box-kicking, once a weakness, is now good enough to improve England's exit strategy. He is always looking for the tap-and-go quick penalty, and has the speed to catch defences napping.

However, watch out for Aaron Smith's fast whipping pass from the deck - it gives his 10 so much space and time. Look out too for his support runs, he is good at anticipating a line break and being on hand to continue the attack.

Verdict: New Zealand to win, but I would be delighted if England won by one.

Jeremy Guscott was talking to BBC Sport's James Standley.

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