Jones eager to see England face ‘benchmark’ All Blacks

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England coach Eddie Jones cannot wait to see how his side fare against the “benchmark for world rugby” when they take on New Zealand at Twickenham.

Jones’ injury-hit team launched their November campaign with a hard-fought 12-11 win at home to South Africa on Saturday and the Australian wants them to build on that result against the world champions on November 10.

A curious quirk of the fixture list means it is four years since England last played New Zealand and Jones would love to get one over the All Blacks ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan. 

“I said to the boys after South Africa that I can’t wait. I cannot wait,” Jones insisted.

“They are the benchmark for world rugby, the team you want to play against. Where are you in the world? You only know when you play against the All Blacks.

“Any team that wins 91 percent of their games is a great team. What other teams in world sport do that?”

Jones, however, added: “You’ve got to believe you can beat them. You’ve got to understand where they’re weak, understand where they’re strong and be disciplined in your game plan. We will be well prepared for them.”

England lost five Tests in a row earlier this year, a poor finish to the Six Nations followed by a 2-1 series loss in South Africa.

But a second straight win over the Springboks was achieved despite the absence of injured senior forwards Billy and Mako Vunipola, Chris Robshaw and Joe Launchbury.

Yet the stark fact is that in 41 Tests stretching back over a hundred years, England have beaten New Zealand a mere seven times.

But Jones was adamant he did not need Saturday’s success, which might so easily have ended in defeat had a stoppage-time penalty been awarded against fly-half Owen Farrell for what many observers felt was an illegal ‘no arms’ tackle on Springbok replacement Andre Esterhuizen, to bolster his confidence in England’s ability to defeat the All Blacks.   

“I didn’t need this to make me believe we can beat the All Blacks — I thought we could beat the All Blacks back in 2016. Nothing has changed there,” said Jones.

“But the win just makes everyone feel a bit better. If you lose a game like that, it’s harder to pick the players up. Now we won’t have to pick them up,” the Australian, a former Wallaby and Japan coach, added.

“The belief you get from winning those tight games is enormous. That’s the big thing for us.”

Farrell, who kicked three of England’s four successful penalties in a match where the Springboks scored the only try of the game, was in equally bullish mood.

The England co-captain highlighted South Africa’s 36-34 win in Wellington in September — the All Blacks’ only Test loss so far this year — as proof New Zealand were far from invincible. 

“Anyone can be beaten,” Farrell said. “I don’t think any team is unbeatable. They got beat not so long ago, didn’t they?” – Agence France-Presse

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