New Zealand's head coach Steve Hansen dropped flanker Sam Cane. Simultaneously, he picked Scott Barrett for his final line-up ahead of Saturday's high-voltage Rugby World Cup semi-final at the International Stadium in Yokohama. Rugby pundits are expressing their amazement at Hansen's decision.
Sources claim that Barrett will start in the back row. Generally, he is a lock. This will be the first time that the player would start in the back row. His older brother, Beauden Barrett, will play as full-back and Richie Mo'unga will continue in the fly-half position.
As far as the England squad is concerned, fly-half George Ford has been recalled to the side. The Three Lions completed a convincing win against Australia in their quarter-final tie, 40-16. Ford was dropped in that game. Captain Owen Farrell started as the fly-half in that match. Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade played in the center positions.
However, for the biggest match of England's season, coach Eddie Jones reverted his strategy to a 10-12-13 combination including Ford, Farrell, and Tuilagi.
Mind-games have started in both the camps and each coach is firing words towards the opponent. A few days ago, Jones claimed that New Zealand will be under tremendous pressure because the Kiwis will aim towards lifting the World Cup trophy for the third time in a row. Speaking of the pressure, Hansen shrugged it off. Instead, the All Blacks boss referenced England's failure four years ago, when they couldn't cross the Pool stage.
According to Hansen, he and Jones exchanged text messages ahead of the most awaited clash this weekend. While speaking to the BBC, Hansen said, "We are going to attempt to win this game, and if we do, we will be attempting to do something that has never been done before. That brings its own pressure, as Eddie has highlighted. But then you have got a team that has come out of a previous tournament having not been as successful as they wanted to be."
Speaking of records, England and New Zealand have faced each other 41 times. The Kiwis emerged victorious in 33 of them. The last time England beat the All Blacks was back in 2012. So far, England lost all of their three previous World Cup meetings against the defending world champions.