Sonny Bill Williams to start at inside centre for All Blacks in Twickenham clash against England

Sonny Bill Williams has played 50 Tests for New Zealand
Sonny Bill Williams has played 50 Tests for New Zealand

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has made several changes to the matchday 23 squad that will compete against England at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday.

Hansen has recalled his main players after fielding an inexperienced line-up against Japan in Tokyo last weekend.

Karl Tu’inukuafe, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Jack Goodhue all make an entry replacing Joe Moody, Scott Barrett, TJ Perenara and Ryan Crotty respectively.

Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala and Dane Coles will provide cover from the bench while Retallick will form second row partnership with Samuel Whitelock with Liam Squire, Ardie Savea and skipper Kieran Read form the loose forward trio.

Beauden Barrett has been slotted at number 10 forming a halfback partnership with scrum-half Aaron Smith with the pair of Richie Mo'unga and TJ Perenara to provide impact from the bench. Goodhue returns from illness and is named at outside centre, inside Sonny Bill Williams with Rieko Ioane, Ben Smith and Damian McKenzie retaining their positions at 11, 14 and 15 respectively.

Hansen said the All Blacks are excited to face England at their own backyard after last facing them four years back. Even though, Eddie Jones' men had a struggling year, Hansen is wary of the threat they possess.

“There’s huge anticipation at what lies ahead on Saturday and the team is certainly looking forward to the challenge of the weekend," said Hansen.

“Our week’s preparation has been very good. We’ve spent the early part of our week getting our preparation right and clarity of our roles and been building throughout the week so we’re ready to go on Saturday.

“We know we’ll be up against a very determined and well-coached English side. They’ll have gained a lot of confidence from their win over South Africa and be keen to make a statement in front of their passionate Twickenham home crowd.

“However, for us it’s about making our own statement. To do that, we’ll need to bring our own intensity and accuracy to an even higher level throughout the game. It’s a great opportunity to assess where our game is at and we’re really looking forward to it.”

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