If there is a battle within the battle that could decide the All Blacks ’semifinals against England this weekend, then free-kicks are ahead.
The breakup is, of course, the focal point of each week, but the form of English open-flanked twins, dubbed by Kamdaze Kids by Eddie Jones, will become readily all brunette.
Although Billy Vunipola’s No. 8 pick is a strong and potential weakness, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have been discovering since Jones linked them together this year. Their combination was not lost on the All Blacks opposite Sam Cane.
“Underhill and Curry were pretty impressive, "Cane said as all Blacks warmed up to their penultimate week in Japan." They both have a huge appetite for hard work, they have very good skill combinations. "
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Last week in Oita, as England knocked Australia out of the World Cup with their 40-16 quarterfinal victory, Curry was named the man of the match after an influential display.
The 21-year-old handed the final pass for Jonny May's initial try and made 16 runs – one of which almost split Rebecca Hodge's Wallabies utility in half, which was the perfect moment of tact.
After that hit, who was the first man to hit the road but a partner in the Underhill crime.
This is just one case where the pair clinically combined to outsmart Australia's combination of "Pooper", that of Captain Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
All Blacks, of course, used their own double combo of Cane and Ardie Save this year.
This dual outdoor job is an open modern trend, to the extent that some have questioned the future of the more traditional blind parties.
"I'm not sure exactly why it came," Cane said. "That probably shows the way the game has evolved slightly where the side roles aren't too different.
"It depends on the coach and what he will play from his lightweight striker. Teams are so structured that the best chance of attacking is unstructured from a return ball, so you can increase your chances slightly if you have two."
In order to defeat England, anytime the opposition must first match their physicality. Every aspect of their game stems from dominant collisions. Not meeting them off their heads and their pack will rattle forward and allow Curry and Underhill to make a mess of an All Blacks ruck ball.
England don’t want to play at a foot. They will do everything in their power to slow down and stifle all blacks at the source by aiming for a breakthrough and trying to bring down Aaron Smith.
Throw in all the black captains Kieran Read in combination with Cane and Savea, and the challenge of colliding with Vunipolo, Curry and Underhill is one they will surely love.
Much like Curry and Underhill, Cana and Save's partnership with Read developed only this year, in large part due to the unavailability of Liam Squire. The success of this trio has since been evident, but Cane, feeling fresher than most after being swapped against Ireland at halftime, believes there is much more to be done in Yokoham.
"I'd like to think that we absolutely have room for progress. Ardie is working hard on some of his lineup work, which requires a little bit of six more. But forbid the set piece, our roles are pretty much interchangeable, whether it's offense or defense. "
The contrasting forces of Cane, one of the world's top defenders, and Save, deadly with the ball in his hand, complement the All Blacks' all-black ranks. This allows Read and Brodie Retallick to dominate the middle of the park.
The All Blacks offensive lineman's quick success with the new look didn't happen by accident, and they'll have to be at their best again this weekend.
"When I think about my hard work that we put into training, all the little overhead we have to make sure we sing from the same song, not really," Cane said when asked if he was surprised that he and Savea wished. "Ardie is a special player especially with a pretty special skill set as we saw in all three free-for-all positions in the All Black jersey."