New Zealand v England: Stuart Lancaster to make sweeping changes
New Zealand v England: Stuart Lancaster says there will be more changes than usual for second Test
Stuart Lancaster has admitted he will make more changes than usual as England prepare for the second Test against New Zealand in Dunedin.
The England head coach had to field a squad without players from Saracens and Northampton Saints—who played a significant role in England’s Triple Crown success during the Six Nations—after the Aviva Premiership final on 31 May with many set to return.
It is a must-win game and that will be the overriding decision that will influence where I go on selection
“There were some pretty good players sat in the stand watching that game,” Lancaster told BBC 5 Live’s Sportsweek. “There will be more changes than you ordinarily make.
“Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Billy Twelvetrees, Luther Burrell—the list goes on.
“There are a lot of good players who were unavailable for that first Test.”
Key positional changes in the backline are set to be the major talking points in the week with Farrell set to return at outside-half and Care to start at scrum-half, if he fit, as debates rage over the centre positions and who to play on the wings.
There are also questions over how many changes to make in the pack after impressive performances by hooker Rob Webber and back-rowers James Haskell and Ben Morgan with Tom Wood and Billy Vunipola waiting in the wings to return.
Lancaster conceded he has a difficult decision to make after the 20-15 defeat by the All Blacks in Auckland saw some of England’s third- and fourth-choice players impress as it took Steve Hansen’s more experienced charges 71 minutes to take the lead with a 78th minute try for Conrad Smith the difference on the scoreboard.
“I’ve got to get the balance right,” he added. “That’s going to be the key thing because the priority has to be to win the second Test. If we win that then we have got a series that we can win.
“It is a must-win game and that will be the overriding decision that will influence where I go on selection.
“We don’t want to get carried away as we didn’t win the game, we lost. We have to make sure we rectify that next week.
“But, overall, to see players put under pressure and see Freddie Burns, Kyle Eastmond, Rob Webber and these guys that have waited patiently for opportunities, it is rewarding.
“It is a really positive sign for the long-term future of England.”