McGeechan: England can sneak win against All Blacks
March 16, 2014
Sir Ian McGeechan believes Manu Tuilagi could play on the wing © Getty Images
Sir Ian McGeechan believes England can go to New Zealand on their summer tour full of confidence and pick up a win.
England finished the 2014 Six Nations in second and ended the campaign with a resounding thumping of Italy in Rome. The next time England play will be on New Zealand soil as they embark on a three-Test tour in June.
Due to the scheduling of the Aviva Premiership final, Stuart Lancaster will opt against players who turn out in that match for their first Test in New Zealand but McGeechan feels England can grab a win off the All Blacks.
"They are definitely a better side than they were in the autumn and I think that they can go to New Zealand with confidence this summer," McGeechan wrote in his column for the Sunday Telegraph. "Of course, it is crazy that they cannot field a full-strength side in the first Test because of the Aviva Premiership final the weekend before. But I do think that they could sneak one of the other two Tests they play against the All Blacks.
"And what a massive statement it would be were they to do that. This season has been the first time they have won the Triple Crown since 2003 and back then England went to New Zealand and Australia before winning the World Cup and won in Wellington and Melbourne.
"So if they went to New Zealand now and won, with over a year to go and with their game only likely to go upwards and develop further, it might be even more impressive than then."
One of the dilemmas Lancaster faces is how to fit Manu Tuilagi into the England backline. Throughout the Six Nations Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees were the duo picked in the centres and though Tuilagi came off the bench for the former on Saturday, McGeechan sees Tuilagi's future on the wing.
"Manu Tuilagi came off the bench to score and that raises some interesting questions going forward. If he is to play at centre, I think it would have to be at 12 but that would change the dynamic of England's play considerably, as it would if Burrell went to 12 and Tuilagi at 13 because both are very different players from Twelvetrees.
"There is the option of playing Tuilagi on the wing, and I could see that happening. With all the ball carriers England already have in Lawes, Burrell, and both Mako and Billy Vunipola [or Morgan], imagine having Tuilagi in the backfield running off one of their shoulders or take a ball up that they can run off."
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