New Zealand vs. England: 5 Changes Stuart Lancaster Should Make

Jack Fairs@fairzy7Contributor IIIJune 11, 2014

New Zealand vs. England: 5 Changes Stuart Lancaster Should Make

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    England will be encouraged by their performance last Saturday against New Zealand, despite their 20-15 loss. This week Stuart Lancaster's squad will be bolstered by late-arriving Northampton and Saracens players after their exploits in the Aviva Premiership Final. 

    England will also be strengthened by the return to fitness of scrum-half Danny Care and inside centre Billy Twelvetrees. Lancaster has conceded that this will lead to fairly wide-ranging changes to the starting line-up for the second Test at Dunedin.

    "I've got to get the balance right. 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."

    Here is a look at five players that Stuart Lancaster should be bringing into the starting XV for the all important second Test.

Luther Burrell

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    Bath centre Kyle Eastmond impressed in the first Test against New Zealand. Given a chance due to Luther Burrell's absence and Billy Twelvetrees's injury, Eastmond proved he could perform at the highest level.

    However, Luther Burrell brings something different. He gives a great physical presence in the midfield and has been in fine form. Testing Burrell against the Kiwi powerhouse Ma'a Nonu will be a good gauge for Lancaster of where the Northampton centre ranks on the world stage.

    Luther Burrell showed in the Aviva Premiership Final that he has the handling ability to match his power running. This gives him the ability to play both inside and outside centre. With Lancaster toying with the idea of playing Manu Tuilagi on the wing, Burrell will surely feature in some capacity.

Tom Wood

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    Despite a more than respectable effort from James Haskell and Ben Morgan, Lancaster will look to return to his more settled back row. 

    This means the inclusion of Premiership finalists Tom Wood and Billy Vunipola. Wood has been a key, if understated, performer at blindside for England this spring. He is a leader on the pitch and a grafter at the breakdown.

    New Zealand may be able to add to their own back row as Kieran Read returns to fitness. If England want to compete with the best back row unit in the world, they will want Tom Wood back in the fold.


Billy Vunipola

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    Billy Vunipola is fast becoming one of England's key players in what has been a breakthrough year for him. The 21-year-old is a powerful athlete and a bruising ball-carrier. 

    Lancaster will be anxious to recall Vunipola with the prospect of a returning Kieran Read looming. Like Burrell, Vunipola will face a stern test of his abilities against the world's best in his position. In what is still a young international career, Vunipola has the chance to lay down a marker on the global stage.

    The No.8 will afford England front foot ball and help to fragment the Kiwi defensive line. This could be the key to unlocking the All Blacks for that elusive try.

Courtney Lawes

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    Courtney Lawes is back. The second rower made his debut in 2009 but has since fallen down the England pecking order. However, his performance for Northampton in the Aviva Premiership Final confirmed that Lawes is back to his big-hitting best.

    A lethal lineout weapon and responsible for some of the biggest hits in the global game, an in-form Courtney Lawes is invaluable to England. His hit on Charlie Hodgson in the Premiership Final changed the whole momentum of the game and saw his team walk away with the trophy.

    Against arguably the most physical side in the world, Lancaster will want his steam-rolling second row back in the starting XV.

Owen Farrell

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    Freddie Burns defied all the critics against the All Blacks on Saturday. After an indifferent season for Gloucester, the new Leicester signing turned it on for the big occasion. Burns kicked 12 points in a performance that won him many plaudits.

    However, the return of Owen Farrell to the fray will surely see a change at fly-half for England. The Saracens man is rapidly establishing a reputation as a composed kicker and controlled game-manager.

    The returning Farrell will most likely be partnered by Danny Care at scrum half. The Harlequins livewire missed out on the first Test through injury but should be fit for the Dunedin rematch. The relationship between Care and Farrell will be crucial to England as they seek to overturn the narrow loss in Auckland.