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New Zealand vs England: Four key head-to-heads to watch out for

England conquered Japan in their previous outing, but face a much tougher challenge this weekend as the All Blacks lie in wait. 

Steve Borthwick has only made two changes to the starting XV that beat Japan 52-17 last month, as Joe Marler and Will Stuart come into the front-row.

That leaves George Furbank at fullback, with Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman joining him in the back three. Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence continue in midfield. Marcus Smith again starts at fly-half, with Alex Mitchell occupying the number nine jersey.

Captain Jamie George joins the aforementioned Marler and Stuart in the front-row. Maro Itoje and George Martin continue their partnership in the second-row. Chandler Cunningham-South, Sam Underhill and Ben Earl complete the starting team.

Fin Baxter and Ollie Sleightholme are also in-line for their test debuts as replacements.

New Zealand come into this game as an unknown entity, with Scott Robertson taking charge of his first game as All Blacks boss, but he has named an impressive starting team.

Stephen Perofeta starts at fullback, with Sevu Reece and Mark Tele’a on the wings. The potent duo of Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett continue their partnership in midfield, with Damien McKenzie and TJ Perenara in the halves.

READ MORE: Rugby on TV: How to watch all the international tests this weekend

Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor and Tyrel Lomax start in the front-row. Captain Scott Barret starts at lock alongside Patrick Tuipolotu. Samipeni Finau, Dalton Papali’i and Ardie Savea complete the starting XV.

Finlay Christie, Anton Lienert-Brown and Beauden Barrett are the headline replacements.

But with so many high-quality players on the pitch, who will determine the  outcome of the game? With that thought in mind, here are four key head-to-heads to watch out for in England vs New Zealand.

New Zealand vs England: Four key head-to-heads to watch out for

Mark Tele’a vs Immanuel Feyi-Waboso

We might be slightly cheating with this one, but this battle will be fascinating to watch. Since bursting onto the test scene during the Six Nations, Feyi-Waboso has earned comparisons to his All Blacks counterpart, and the pair will be keen to prove a point over each other this weekend. They are both incredibly powerful wingers with bags of pace too, but they also posses a skill to generate momentum out of nowhere to get their teams on the front foot. They also love looking for work.

Damien McKenzie vs Marcus Smith

The clash of fly-halves will certainly be one to keep an eye on. Like Tele’a-Feyi-Waboso, these two have a very similar style of play. They both love to play fast, attacking rugby and attack at spaces, but they also both have the ability to slice through the line. Furthermore, they can both generate moments of magic for their teams, and these could swing the outcome of the game on Saturday morning.

Ardie Savea vs Ben Earl

Two genuinely world-class number eights going head-to-head, what more could you want. Both men will be heavily involved in most facets of the game this weekend. They both really pack a punch on both sides of the ball, but will also really make a nuisance of  themselves in the breakdown. This will have a massive effect on both TJ Perenara and Alex Mitchell, who thrive off quick, clean ball to get their side on the front-foot.

Tyrel Lomax vs Will Stuart

It might not be one you were expecting to see on this list, given the head-to-head between Rieko Ioane and Henry Slade, but the scrum will be such a crucial part of this game. Stuart has really improved in this part of his game under Johann van Graan, and he proved it against Japan. Whilst they won’t be directly opposite each other in the scrum, they both will need to stay strong in the fight against very attacking looseheads, but if they do they can really let their teammate flourish.

How to watch New Zealand vs England on TV

New Zealand vs England: 8:05am Sky Sports Main Event/ Sky Sports Action

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