England can't try and be clever against All Blacks, says Stuart Barnes

Last Updated: 14/11/13 7:30pm

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If England try to be clever against New Zealand, or play wide, they'll get absolutely hammered, says Sky Sports' rugby expert Stuart Barnes.

Stuart Lancaster's side faces the World Cup winners at Twickenham in the final QBE Autumn International on Saturday, hoping they can repeat their dominate performance in this fixture last season, which saw the All Blacks comprehensively beaten 38-21.

Since then the southern-hemisphere side have not lost in 13 matches and former England fly-half Barnes told What's the Story? on Wednesday that the hosts must take inspiration from their 2012 victory.

Barnes said: "It's easy to say England have got to believe, but they have.

"The fact that they won last year against the All Blacks is absolutely fundamental but the key for England is that they don't try and play too much rugby against New Zealand.

"If they try and be clever and they play wide they'll get absolutely hammered.

"But England are big and they're powerful up front, they can take New Zealand on.

"The fact that they won last year against the All Blacks is absolutely fundamental but the key for England is that they don't try and play too much rugby against New Zealand."
Stuart Barnes

"They're mortals; England's pack are big if not bigger, technically they're better in the set pieces, if they just keep coming down the middle time and time again they can batter the All Blacks and they will have a fighting chance."

The Haka advantage

On Wednesday's What's on the Story the panel were discussing the psychological requirements needed to beat the best in sport and Barnes said the All Blacks pre-match Haka gives them a mental advantage at the start of the game.

"The Haka is an interesting one because that is an important part of New Zealand really getting themselves worked up but at the end of the day," said Barnes.

"I've played against New Zealand and they're doing the Haka and pumped up whilst you're standing around getting a few goose bumps and you're thinking, 'they're getting an edge here'.

"Nobody wants to do away with the Haka but there's no denying that they get to the kick-off and they're in a better place mentally than the team they play against.

"I'm pretty certain England won't be intimidated but the key is how many points are New Zealand up because they have that belief in themselves?"

You can read about some of the best England v New Zealand moments here


New Zealand have an incredible international record and are unbeaten this season. Barnes believes this incredible record comes not only from their great playing style but also the cultural importance of the All Blacks team to the whole country.

He said: "The All Blacks are one of the best international sports teams in history. Throughout their career they're running at 75 per cent success record since the they played their first game. They're at over 82 per cent in the professional age and I think they've lost one in 33 since they've won the World Cup.

"What makes them so good? I think one of the keys for New Zealand is that they're a country at the other end of the world with only four million people and they have used Rugby Union to define their culture; it's not something people go and watch at the weekend it's something that helps New Zealanders identify themselves so that when you wear that black jersey it probably means more than it does to wear the red one of Wales, a white jersey of England or the gold and green of Australia and I think that gives them the edge.

"Since the game has gone professional what they have done to the rugby world is almost like a Darwinian mountain - all the world has gone one way and that's working in gyms getting people bigger, faster and stronger and you think that's professionalism; in New Zealand what they've done is to understand, 'right, we're not the biggest but we'll be the smartest'.

"The rest of the world has gone big and powerful, New Zealand are the smartest and we're all going in the wrong direction whilst they're running away from us. It's outstanding, culturally they're great and technically they're wonderful."

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