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England make two big changes for All Black showdown

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England recalled experienced props Joe Marler and Will Stuart to face New Zealand in the first Test in Dunedin on Saturday.

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Marler and Stuart will pack down in the front row on either side of captain Jamie George in the only changes to the England team which thrashed Japan 52-17 in Tokyo 11 days ago.

Uncapped prop Fin Baxter and wing Ollie Sleightholme – son of former England wing Jon Sleightholme – are poised to make their first appearances for England from the bench.

The two-Test series sees Scott Robertson starting his tenure as the All Blacks new head coach.

The second Test is a week later at Auckland’s Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost since 1994.

England have won eight of 43 Tests against the All Blacks, but only two of those victories were on New Zealand soil.

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The All Blacks have not played since losing the World Cup Final to South Africa in Paris in October, while England finished third in this year’s Six Nations.

Replacement prop Dan Cole will win his 114th cap to equal Jason Leonard as England’s second most capped men’s player.

“It doesn’t get more challenging than playing New Zealand at home, but it’s exactly where we want to be,” said Borthwick.

“We want to find out more about ourselves and test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.

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“Test rugby is a game of fine margins, so our mindset is going to be very important on Saturday. We’ll need to be mentally strong, play a tactically smart game and ensure we maintain our discipline.

“The Otago Stadium in Dunedin is a great venue with a quick surface, and the closed roof should make the atmosphere very special.”

England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 George Martin, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Ollie Sleightholme.

Date: Saturday, July 6
Venue: Otago Satdium, Otago
Kick-off: 19.05 (08.05 BST; 07.05 GMT)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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