England v New Zealand. All Blacks to start Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre

Sonny Bill Williams

England v New Zealand
Venue: Twickenham Date: 10 November Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live (build-up from 14:30) and live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Sonny Bill Williams will start at inside centre for New Zealand against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The cross-code star lines up in an exciting All Blacks backline alongside fellow centre Jack Goodhue and full-back Damian McKenzie.

The All Blacks have not played at Twickenham since a 24-21 win in 2014.

“There’s huge anticipation at what lies ahead on Saturday,” said head coach Steve Hansen, who added: “We want to play two playmakers.”

Hansen’s counterpart Eddie Jones names his England side at noon on Thursday, with flanker Sam Underhill in line to slot into the back row in place of the injured Tom Curry.

With few other changes expected from the side that edged past South Africa, centre Ben Te’o is set to continue in the number 12 shirt.

Te’o will resume his rivalry with Williams, after the pair faced each other in the Australian rugby league competition the NRL, before doing battle in the Lions series last summer.

“I’ve played against him a couple of times – he’s a dangerous man,” Te’o told BBC Sport.

“He’s got so many aspects to his game. He’s an athlete and I respect what he’s done in the game.

“I’m looking forward to going up against him and if I get the opportunity it will be great, but there are a lot more threats also across the board.”

Hansen says the selection of the skilful McKenzie at full-back is a response to England’s expected tactics, and will take the pressure off fly-half Beauden Barrett.

“Against the sides that play a little differently to we do, having two playmakers makes it a lot harder for them to shut us down,” added Hansen.

“It also takes away the frustration of that person who is shut down, because you have some else taking a bit of the heat.”

New Zealand XV: Damian McKenzie; Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Karl Tu’inukuafe, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read (captain).

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BBC Sport – Rugby Union

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