The All Blacks reckon England’s home advantage can go a long way towards compensating for their horrendous injury list heading into Saturday’s Test.
Impressive lock Joe Launchbury became the ninth English player – most of them first-choice – to succumb to injury, ensuring a weakened home side will run onto Twickenham.
Launchbury’s neck problem adds to their tight five woes in particular.
Fellow locks Geoff Parling and Ed Slater, props Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole and hooker Tom Youngs are all missing.
Joining them as spectators are leading flanker Tom Croft and their most destructive back, centre Manu Tuilagi.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn’t envy third-ranked England’s problems, but says they have the depth to cope with it and could draw motivation from it.
Hansen is especially wary of how the crowd at a sold-out Twickenham could lift fringe players with something to prove.
“Home base does give you an advantage, and particularly for the northern hemisphere teams. They seem to play better on their home base,” he said.
He says the England tourists who lost 3-0 in New Zealand in June showed obvious signs of fatigue.
The first two Tests were tight before England fell away in the dead rubber at Hamilton, losing 36-13.
“They won’t be as tired as they were in June. Conversely, we’re probably coming to the end of our season.
“That makes a difference.”
The All Blacks struggled for their best throughout last year’s November tour, notching narrow wins over France, England and Ireland.
Hansen believes they are in a better physical and mental state this time because the entire squad were in Chicago for their tour opener against the United States on Saturday.
He says they arrived in a disjointed state last year, with some players skipping the Test week in Japan and flying straight into France.
“This group has come through the States and are very tight. I think we’ve got the recipe right this time.”