It's hard to see anything but a New Zealand victory
Dan Carter is back. That makes an enormous difference to New Zealand and the game against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Great though Aaron Cruden can be, he is imply not Daniel Carter - nobody is, and nobody has been. Of course he will make a massive difference because he can do it all effortlessly and effectively - catch, pass, run, kick, support. He has skill, physical qualities and vision of the highest quality.
It is so hard to see where England can win this match - not just because of Carter.
Look at the England side and see what players they have who can make a difference. In olden days, when coaches had unique ideas, they used to talk of pressure points - those players who could change a game, make a difference to the way people play.
Chris Ashton may be one but it is hard to find another.
There was a great player who compared rugby to bridge and said: You've got to play to your trumps. Look hard for English trumps and you know they have none to play to.
How will England play against New Zealand?
They may well throw their rugged forwards into the fray as they did against South Africa, but they do it in such a limited, sterile way, the mighty heavings of eunuchs.
They may kick? They could do so at their peril.
The Wallabies scored a counterattack try off a kick and the Wallabies do not have the counterattacking prowess of New Zealand, who have in Cory Jane and Israel Dagg two of the world's best catches of the high ball which they then turn to All Black profit. Mind you they also have Julian Savea and he is wobbly under the high ball.
They may get the better in the scrums - but how much will a bit better count for in this age of fewer scrums?
England will tackle. They have the guts and spirit to do that, but then they need to be for it is easy to run out of defenders when that All Black swathe moves calmly down the field with the simplest of catch-and-pass drills till the last man runs unchallenged in for the try.
While it may be hard to see where England can win, there are 23 reasons why New Zealand will win and do so handsomely.
The weather may play a part. England is sopping wet at present but it seems that, unlike last Saturday, there will be no rain. Not that the All Blacks are not adept at playing in the wet - in any kind of weather in fact.
Players to Watch:
For England: Chris Ashton runs wonderfully from broken play, Mike Brown, given a chances, can be elusive and Geoff Parling was manful against the Springboks.
For New Zealand: Daniel Carter. Israel Dagg. evasive Cory Jane. Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu. Julian Savea on the run. Smart Aaron Smith. How is that for a start. And then in the forward there is that remarkable loose trio of world class Kieran Read at the back, all-round, ubiquitous Richie McCaw and work-horse Liam Messam. energetic Sam Whitelock and imposing Brodie Retallick. A strong man in Owen Franks and two clever veterans in Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock.
Head to Head: They are both candidates for the IRB's Player of the Year award - the two flyhalves, Daniel Carter and Owen Farrell. Carter is an obvious one. The choice of Farrell is mysterious. Ma'a Nonu will find Brad Barritt a tough nut to crack. and there always is a squabble between scrumhalves - Ben Youngs and Aaron Smith. Alex Corbisiero against tough Owen Franks. It will be interesting to see if Corbisiero can get away with it this time.
2010: New Zealand won 26-16, London
2009: New Zealand won 19-6, London
2008: New Zealand won 32-6, London
2008: New Zealand won 44-12, Christchurch
2008: New Zealand won 37-20, Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 41-20, London
2005: New Zealand won 23-19, London
2004: New Zealand won 36-12, Auckland
2004: New Zealand won 36-3, Dunedin
2003: England won 15-13, Wellington
Prediction: In 1999 a well-known rugby writer wrote about the semifinal match between France and the All Blacks. His article was all about the All Blacks and how they were going to win. The last line said: "Of course, France may win, and pigs may fly." France won. Just this week after day four of the cricket Test in Adelaide, a Sydney Telegraph cricket correspondent wrote: "Australia will return to the top of the world today once it completes a crushing victory over damaged and demoralised Test champions South Africa in Adelaide." There was no 'crushing victory' as the 'damaged and demoralised champions' fought back. There is danger in predicting but it's hard to see anything but a New Zealand victory. We say it humbly, that we believe that the All Blacks will win by 15 points or a lot more.
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ben Smith.
Date: Saturday, 1 December 2012
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 03.30, Sunday, December 2 NZ time)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 7°C, dropping to -1°C.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
By Paul Dobson