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Wednesday, October 6, 1999 Published at 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK


All Blacks turn to Dowd

Tony Brown comes onto the bench in the only other All Blacks change

New Zealand have selected Craig Dowd for Saturday's key World Cup clash with England at Twickenham.

Auckland prop Dowd replaced Kees Meeuws against Tonga on Sunday, and is brought in to play his 50th Test for the All Blacks.

Full-back Jeff Wilson will also reach the same landmark in the Pool B match at Twickenham.

Otago's Tony Brown will replace Carlos Spencer on the replacements' bench, a serious knee injury having forced Spencer out of the tournament.

Hart: We have advantage

All Blacks coach John Hart believes the high-profile build-up to the showdown in England will give his side an advantage.

"England have talked about this game for 15 months," said Hart.

"Clive Woodward has been talking it up for a long time and I think there's more pressure on England than on us. They are obviously feeling very confident but they have talked themselves into a huge challenge.

"I thought England played exceptionally well in the 26-26 game in 1997 but it was a game we could have won convincingly.

"We're playing them at the peak of their fitness. They are well prepared, well selected and as strong as they have ever been.

"In fact they're as strong a side as the All Blacks have ever faced at Twickenham - but the pressure is more on England."

Hart believes either side can go on to win the tournament even if they lose on Saturday.

"Saturday's not a final, it's a qualifying game," said Hart. "And there's a long way to go. You've got to be very careful thinking this game is that big."

The bad news for England is that Jonah Lomu, according to Hart, is ready to peak at the perfect time.

"He has grown all year," said Hart. "He is as well as he has ever been."

And the coach believes the criticism the All Blacks received after their struggle with Tonga was unwarranted.

"I didn't think we were that bad against Tonga," he said. "There was some looseness in our passing but I was thrilled with the way we finished.

"It was a great defensive effort to keep Tonga out. I am not part of the gloom brigade. I am excited about what these All Blacks can do and I think we'll have an exciting match."

Team:

J Wilson (Otago); T Umaga (Wellington), C Cullen (Wellington), A Ieremia (Wellington), J Lomu (Counties Manukau); A Mehrtens, J Marshall (both Canterbury); T Randell, J Kronfeld (both Otago), R Thorne (Canterbury), R Brooke (Auckland), N Maxwell (Canterbury), C Dowd (Auckland), A Oliver, C Hoeft (both Otago). Replacements: D Gibson (Canterbury), T Brown, B Kelleher (both Otago), A Blowers (Auckland), R Willis (Waikato), G Feek, M Hammett (both Canterbury)





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