Stuart Lancaster has become the latest coach tasked with Test rugby’s greatest challenge - solving the All Black Rubik’s Cube.
Ireland’s Declan Kidney, Australia’s Robbie Deans, Argentina’s Santiago Phelan, South Africa’s Heyneke Meyer, Scotland’s Andy Robinson, Italy’s Jacques Brunel and Wales’ Warren Gatland.
One-by-one the world’s leading coaches have tried in vain to mastermind the downfall of the mighty world champions in 2012.
Instead, New Zealand have romped to the inaugural Rugby Championship title, retained the Bledisloe Cup and cemented their place at the top of the IRB World Rankings, all the while remaining unbeaten.
Steve Hansen’s men are therefore the overwhelming favourites for their final Test of the season at Twickenham on Saturday.
Lancaster, whose England side are coming off back-to-back defeats to Australia and South Africa, is next on the radar and says the hosts are fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
The England coach said there was no clear-cut way of beating the All Blacks, saying it would take a complete, 80-minute team effort to end New Zealand’s 20-match unbeaten streak.
“You’ve got to get all your component pieces right. The three set-piece areas – restarts, scrums and line-outs need to be good,” Lancaster said.
“Defensively you need to be at the top of your game; they regularly score above 30 points in international rugby, which is impressive.
“You have to be disciplined, not allow them easy points and equally when you get your opportunities you need to take them.”
Lancaster backed flyhalf Owen Farrell to fire on all cylinders after naming the surprise IRB Payer of the Year nominee in the No.10 jersey in place of the injured Toby Flood.
“I’ve never bought into it that he’s dropped off [in form] too dramatically after the Six Nations. It’s a competitive position, flyhalf.
“Owen had a slightly slow start to the season with a shoulder injury that held him back and they have a rotation policy at Saracens, so he didn’t play all the time. But he’s been training really well and he’ll go back to what he did in the Six Nations.”
Lancaster was also excited at the prospect of uncapped Gloucester flyhalf Freddie Burns making an impact off the bench.
“Freddie was unlucky not to make the squad in the first place but he gained some experience in the Barbarians week,” said Lancaster.
“He’s come back to Gloucester and he’s been excellent. His game management has improved, he has that point of difference you look for in a flyhalf - he’s got pace.
“Nigel Davies is doing a great job with him, credit to Gloucester for the way they’ve developed him over the past couple of years.”
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