Sir Clive Woodward picks out his two star performers for England against All Blacks - Ruck

Sir Clive Woodward picks out his two star performers for England against All Blacks

Sir Clive Woodward has defended Marcus Smith after his kicks ultimately cost England victory against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

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He began: “Steve Borthwick and his players missed a huge, huge opportunity to claim what would have been an historic win in New Zealand. They will be shattered to have lost by the narrowest of margins and should have plenty of regrets about doing so.

He continued: “Marcus Smith missed three kicks at goal. But I wouldn’t dwell on them too much. The reason I say that is that if Smith had been successful with those shots, the All Blacks would have had to have changed their game and played differently so who knows what would have happened. 

“While the missed kicks were obviously not ideal from an English perspective, I don’t think they were the sole crucial factor in defeat.”

Selecting his star performers, Woodward added: “Borthwick is building an impressive team and England had star performers across the match. Chandler-Cunningham South had a big game and Feyi-Waboso was superb.

“The Exeter wing scored a try, but he did far more than that. He ultimately set up his own try in the second half choosing to run from deep instead of kick, with Slade working hard to get back there too. Feyi-Waboso’s defence was superb and for a young player the all-round attributes of his game were there to see. He didn’t put a foot wrong.

“Maro Itoje stepped up and I was impressed by George Furbank. The full-back took two massive hits but shrugged them off like a champion boxer.

“Ollie Lawrence, who was the man I was most interested in watching from an England perspective, had a solid game. Like Feyi-Waboso, there is still more to come from him and that’s hugely exciting. The first 50 minutes showed real progress in attack and Smith looked the part in a hostile environment.”

“Inexcusable” – Four England players who flopped and who should replace them for second test

New Zealand narrowly defeated England 16-15 in a thrilling opening Test in Dunedin, marking a victorious start for new head coach Scott Robertson.

Below, we look at what changes Steve Borthwick could make for next weekend’s clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park.

#1. Marcus Smith

Rugby Pass 5/10: “Inexcusable miss in front of the posts early in the second half, but bounced back immediately with some passes timed to absolute perfection as England scored their second. After being penned back in the first half due to New Zealand’s territorial supremacy, he was able to express himself much more after the break as England gained more control. Unfortunately, two kicks from five are the statistics that can define Test matches though, and that might well have been the case in Dunedin”

Telegraph 6/10: “Missed two sitters off the tee which England had to take. Didn’t love the grubber when England were attacking well but two slick passes before Feyi-Waboso’s score. Bottom line, the missed points were critical. “

Replacement: Fin Smith is waiting the wings, but we’d give Marcus another run out next weekend