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All Blacks v England: Scott Barrett is named to start at the blindside for the Rugby World Cup semifinals



Scott Barrett has been named to start at the Blind Flanker for the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup semifinal against England in Yokohama on Saturday night.

Coach Steve Hansen has made two changes (one person and one positional) to the starting lineup which faced Ireland in last weekend's quarterfinal.

With the injury-enforced absence of bench Matt Todd (shoulder) flanker, the loose forwards combination has been tweaked, with Barrett promoted to start at No. 6, which sees Ardie Savea move to open and Sam Cane drop to the reserves.

Scott Barrett has been named at Blindside Flanker for the All Blacks' World Cup semifinal against England.

ANDREW CORNAGA / PHOTOSPORT

Scott Barrett has been named at Blindside Flanker for the All Blacks' World Cup semifinal against England.

It's the combination that was used in the second half of the 46-14 win over Ireland.

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Patrick Tuipulotu comes onto the bench as lock cover.

Since the last World Cup, Cane has started all but one (against Argentina in New Plymouth in 2017) of the 35 tests he has played.

Of Barrett's 34 tests (16 starts), he has never started at blindside, but has come off the bench to play there are plenty of times, and after showing good signs last weekend, his bigger body has been preferred for what is expected to be a big physical task against the English pack, and gives the All Blacks an extra lineout option.

Hansen said the team was in good shape as possible, ahead of the massive occasion.

"There's no doubt that this is a huge game and there's a lot of excitement around it," he said. "We know what we have to do and we've had a great week's preparation. The team is exactly where we want to be, mentally and physically, ahead of the weekend.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says his side are in the best space possible ahead of the huge encounter.

HANNAH PETERS / GETTY IMAGES

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says his side are in the best space possible ahead of the huge encounter.

"We're really looking forward to this opportunity. It's all about this game and the moments it will bring. In these moments, the word pressure is bandied around quite readily. However, that pressure is always there whenever you play quality opposition, regardless of who you are It's about how you handle that in the moment and not getting distracted by the past or the future.

"Both teams have a common goal, which is to make the final. However, we've arrived at this point with vastly different experiences from previous Rugby World Cups. No doubt those experiences will resurface throughout the week and even in the game itself.

"Let's hope the game lives up to the expectation that both teams will have, and is one for the ages."

SNTV via AP

Eddie Jones said England were "spied on" ahead of their Rugby World Cup semifinal with the All Blacks.

Meanwhile, Saturday's semifinal will see Codie Taylor's hooker playing his 50th test.

"On behalf of the players and management, we congratulate Codie on reaching this special milestone," Hansen said. "You couldn't ask for a better occasion to mark this.

"We're really looking forward to the great atmosphere that a Rugby World Cup semifinal brings and we know that there are many Kiwi fans who have traveled from home to support us. There are also many Japanese fans who will be at Yokohama cheering us on We hope that we can put in a performance that will make them proud. "

The All Blacks and England have played each other 41 times, with 33 wins to New Zealand, seven to England, and one draw.

The last time they met was in November last year, at Twickenham, where the All Blacks edged the hosts 16-15.

They have faced each other three times at the World Cup – the pool stage in 1991 and 1999, and the semifinals in 1995 – with the All Blacks victorious on each occasion.

AT A GLANCE

All Blacks: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett.


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