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England v New Zealand key battles

England are searching for a first series victory in New Zealand when they clash with the All Blacks over three Tests in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton.

Here, Press Association Sport examines three key battles that will help determine the outcome of the series.


One of the most pressing concerns facing the All Blacks is managing McCaw's fitness so that he remains potent at the 2015 World Cup. The 33-year-old openside may be in the twighlight of his career but is as influential at the breakdown as ever with referees still reluctant to penalise a player who repeatedly bends the rules beyond breaking point.

Robshaw may lack McCaw's ability to secure turnovers and slow down opposition ball, but he shares the same work ethic by consistently finishing as England's top tackler and carrier. The Harlequins flanker took time to settle into the captaincy, but is now the unchallenged choice to lead England.


It will be the second Test before these back row Titans meet as Read is a doubt for the series opener at Eden Park following five weeks out with concussion and flu while Vunipola has been ruled out due to his involvement in the Aviva Premiership. When it happens, the collision promises to be a battle to saviour.

Read is the reigning International Rugby Board player of the year, reward for a stellar 12 months notable for his athleticism and handling, and could become the All Blacks' finest ever number eight. It is hard to believe Vunipola is only 21 and has just eight caps given the impact he has made in a breakthrough Test season notable for his explosive ball carrying.


An intriguing duel between two of three best full-backs in the game with Australia's Israel Folau completing the trio. Brown has been England's outstanding player this season, winning a succession of awards topped by RBS 6 Nations player of the Championship. His influence as an attacking force has grown, now demonstrating playmaking skills and an ability to beat defenders in the final third of the pitch, while his accuracy in defence is pinpoint.

Dagg is a class act whose speed and step identify him as a lethal on the counter, skills matched by sound decision making and an full repertoire of kicks.


From Belfast Telegraph