The onset of autumn has greeted the All Blacks as they trained at their Lensbury Park base this week. It’s the same venue that the team used for the World Cup four years ago, and offers a training ground adjacent to the hotel.
The game this weekend against England was billed as the clash of the top two sides in the world, however, that was when it was announced last year. Since then, England’s form has fallen to bits – they’ve lost five tests this year to slip to fourth in the world rankings.
Still, the All Blacks will have to contend with a sell out crowd of 82,000 at Twickenham his Saturday afternoon.
However, assistant coach Ian Foster told the assembled English and NZ media contingent that the team is still using this game to prepare for the pressure that next year’s Word Cup will bring.
“It’s a massive opportunity to see how we prepare for yet another big game. There’s a lot of hype about this game, a lot of talk, and these are the occasions that really test you as a unit.”
Former Hurricanes blindside Brad Shields is likely to be in the starting side for England on Saturday. All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor was full of praise for Shields, saying that he was right to take his opportunity overseas.
“You want to see players play at the highest level. The opportunity didn’t come [in NZ], so he went and looked for it elsewhere. He’s got that shot so good for him.” Taylor said.