The Phil Vickery Column
The secret to beating the All Blacks
Phil Vickery
November 5, 2014
Phil Vickery beat the All Blacks twice with England © Getty Images

The secret to beating the All Blacks is fairly simple - it lies within you. It comes down to your belief and mentality. Tactics against the world's best team only do so much; you have to take yourself to another level of intensity and concentration to a place where you repeat everything you do perfectly.

Some teams have a defeatist mentality before they take to the field, they believe if they can keep the All Blacks down to something below a cricket score, then that is a moral victory. England do not have that mindset and each and every one of those 15 players who run out on Saturday have to truly believe they are better than their opposite number.

Looking at England's last two games at Twickenham against New Zealand, in 2012 the All Blacks looked shocked. England went out and got after them and kept on going. But in 2013, England begun terribly. You cannot allow New Zealand to have a 14-point head start.

"England have to be dynamic, maintain their discipline and they have to make tackles, get straight back up and tire that All Black back-row"

It all comes down to keeping hold of that ball. One of the great things about the All Blacks is their ability to rack up the phases and the continuity they get through them. They are on another level in that regard and much of it comes down to their management of the breakdown. They are supreme in that area with the wonderful Richie McCaw the world's best operator while Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino are hardly bad players.

Every team in the world is still trying to get to that level with the other two southern hemisphere sides the next in line for intensity and ability there. England must focus in on the multi-phase play with the backs and forwards working in tandem and the breakdown is key in that thought process with Chris Robshaw leading that area of the game. Like the others, he must take his game to another level when faced with McCaw.

It was the correct decision to keep Robshaw as captain and I like the balance of the England team. I am delighted to see Semesa Rokoduguni get a start on the wing; he offers an x-factor we have not really seen from the others yet and it will be fascinating to see how he gets on against Julian Savea. Jonny May has the potential to be a brilliant Test winger but he must start proving that ability on the Test stage.

In the centres it is great to see Brad Barritt back. He's not everyone's cup of tea but he is sturdy and never has a bad game.

In the pack, despite their injuries in the second-row, England's pairing of Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood have enough mongrel about them to cause some damage. I think Attwood struggled for consistency a little when he joined Bath but he is the boy at the moment in that area and deserves to start.

Players like Rokoduguni and Attwood will have to get up to the Test speed quickly over the next four games and I think England have to win at least three of the four Tests.

Kieran Read runs through a tackle, New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Hamilton, June 21, 2014
Kieran Read is an exceptional talent © Getty Images

What Stuart Lancaster has done for England in terms of re-connecting the team with the supporters has been admirable but we are getting to the stage where we need delivery and reward for everything they have done. They need to show consistency as that is how World Cups go. If you have serious ambitions of getting to the finals, you have to get into a routine and habit of winning. You have to trust combinations and your team-mates and not having some of their best players available could be a blessing in disguise - the squad will come out of it hopefully bigger and stronger as a result with a new-found competition for places.

Playing back-to-back Test match rugby is a tough ask for any team and it will test the players both mentally and physically. England have had a bad run of injuries but it happens, it works in cycles - there is no point playing that injury card as an excuse.

They will go into this hectic period targeting all four and I have a good feeling about Saturday. It will be a high scoring game and England have to go out there with the set-up to win. They have to be dynamic, maintain their discipline and they have to make tackles, get straight back up and tire that All Black back-row.

England have the potential in the team to beat anyone but as I said, it is a case of finding that winning mindset. I am going with my heart for Saturday and England will sneak it by three with Owen Farrell putting in a kicking masterclass.

Play ESPNscrum International Fantasy Rugby 2014
Win a TV, PS4s and iPads. Play for FREE >>

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.