All Blacks Threaten To Destroy England

LONDON -- New Zealand, boosted by the return of formidable winger Jonah Lomu, is ready to make history and intimidate the rest of the rugby union world when it meets England at Old Trafford on Saturday.


The All Blacks squad is arguably the strongest ever to leave New Zealand, and it has played a blistering blend of total rugby on this tour that no other country can match at present.


Unless England's new-look team improves dramatically from the lackluster 15-15 draw with Australia last Saturday, the first test in Manchester could see a record New Zealand victory.


"If we play anything like we did against Australia, we're in for a hiding. It's as simple as that. We need to improve about 200 percent," England's new coach Clive Woodward said.


On a fascinating day of action between the northern and southern hemispheres, world champion South Africa takes on France in the second of its two-test series in Paris while Australia meets Scotland at Murrayfield.


But the All Blacks grab the limelight as the build-up to the next World Cup in 1999 gathers pace.


New Zealand's biggest win against England came in Wellington in 1985 when it triumphed 42-15.


The highest number of points it had scored against the English was 45 when Lomu inspired the All Blacks to a 45-29 victory in the semifinals of the 1995 World Cup in Cape Town, their most recent clash.


The gigantic winger, out of the test side for 15 months recovering from a rare kidney disease, scored four tries on a day when England was outclassed.


Lomu has been recalled on the left wing in place of Glen Osborne, the one definite change from the XV who thrashed Ireland last weekend.


"I personally gave him no chance of being here on this tour. He has gone through a lot of trauma, but I have been absolutely amazed by his mental hardness through it all," said coach John Hart.


Woodward has put his faith in Leicester front-row pair Darren Garforth and Richard Cockerill, making two changes from the team that struggled against Australia. Prop Garforth and hooker Cockerill replace the unfit Will Green and Andy Long.