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All Blacks got real time look at England's style

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Lynn McConnell     06 Nov 2018     Getty Images

The 23-strong group hadn't been sitting back at their hotel with scones and cups of tea as England coach Eddie Jones had suggested, rather they were up close and personal at the staduim in getting a look at England, lock Brodie Retallick said. 

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There was a little of the unknown about playing England who were less regular opponents than Australia, South Africa and Argentina. England played a different style of rugby to those sides especially in the air and winning their kicks back and the uncertainty of their style brought some extra edge to the contest.

"There's been a massive rivalry between the All Blacks and England for a long time and obviously there's been a fair bit of build-up to this Test match over the last few years with not having played them for a while and I think Twickenham itself holds its own experience when it's full," Retallick said.

Looking at England, Retallick said they had an athletic back five while their front rowers enjoyed the contact game and the set-piece, especially the lineout would be a good contest while England's loose forwards with former Hurricane Brad Shields involved carried the ball well.

"They've got a strong pack, they know what they're about and they know their business," he said.

Fullback-wing Ben Smith said aerial tactics were a big part of England's game in order to play their game at the right end of the field and that would put pressure on the All Blacks' back three to be on top of their game.
"Territory is a big part of the way they play and their kicking allows them to do that so we're going to have to have good plans around how we defuse that and where we go from there. We know we're going to have to do a bit of work on that this week and I think it's an awesome challenge for us as a back unit to see how we go in that department," he said.

Smith said first five-eighths Owen Farrell was good at organising England's game and the way they got territory and how they controlled the aerial battle and getting their forwards into the game. He was also a big part of ensuring they took the opportunities their play created.

At the same time if the aerial game wasn't on the money it did open opportunities for a response that demanded quick alignment to take advantage of any chances.

The move to send the players to England had been beneficial, he said.

"It's been a good couple of days, we've had a good couple of days training under our belt and have adjusted coming from Japan and I would say the group that has got here a little bit earlier is fresh and looking forward to the challenge, it's going to be a big one," Smith said.

Retallick said there was benefit for him in having playing against Australia then having to make a long haul flight with extra time to recover. He had also enjoyed being able to get some concentrated work in in a training situation on his shoulder that had been injured.

He had been a little stiff after the Australia game, but that had been expected and he felt the strength was back to the point it was before he suffered the injury.