Foster names ‘strongest’ possible side for England clash

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With no injuries or suspensions, the side named is the best combination.

Features of the side are the inclusion of Scott Barrett on the blindside flank of the scrum and the retention of Mark Telea for his second Test on the right wing.

Foster said it felt right to play Barrett at blindside flanker. When he was first tried against Ireland at Eden Park at the start of the season, he was a 'massive' part of the win, but then circumstances due to injuries and suspensions prevented him from having further chances.

Telea has been rewarded for his debut game against Scotland last weekend.

"He looked calm. There's a few things he could tidy up, but you couldn't want a better debut in many ways. He put down a marker and it's a reward for form," Foster said.

England was a side which knew its game well.

Foster said they were probably searching for a few combinations, but it would be a big Test.

"They'll be up for it. They play a strong pressure game, and that's what they'll be looking to do against us."

"We've targeted these three Tests – Wales, Scotland and England. We knew it would be tough up here, and for some of our guys, it is the first Test up, so every Test has been massive, and this is another.


"I'm delighted with where we've got to in the last two Tests, and, again, we've got to get up on Saturday and put a game on the park that we're proud of.

"I like where our game is going. We've had a plan to grow some options, cement some combinations, and change a few things in our game. If I look at the last three or four weeks and where we've got to in that space, we're delighted, but we're playing a different type of team this week than what we had the last two.

"They like to play a strong pressure game and to squeeze your game, and your mindset a little bit. The challenge for us against this particular opposition is to make sure how good are we at making sure we don't go into our shell."

Playing Barrett on the blindside of the scrum allowed him to cover lock and giving the All Blacks Shannon Frizell and Hoskins Sotutu on the bench.

"It's a good reward for Hoskins. In the Japan Test he played well, and with Shannon on the bench, we've got specialist No8 cover with Hoskins.

By including David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown in the substitutes, they retained the combinations they had been building over the past 12 months, and with their different skills, it gave them a chance, if needed, to chop and change their game later on.

The game would also see lock Brodie Retallick join the list of All Blacks Test centurions.

"He's been there since 2012, and has been a massive part of the engine room of the All Blacks' pack. He's multi-skilled, he's got that tough edge to him, but he's also got that skill edge around the park that's been a feature of his games.

"He's a contributor behind the scenes. He's the heart and soul of our group, and the fact he's putting his arm around Sammy Whitelock is a record-breaking partnership as well. Those two, along with Scott, form a nice trio for us.

"They trust each other, they complement each other because they are slightly different style of locks."


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