England coach Eddie Jones said the British and Irish Lions will “struggle” to beat the All Blacks in their three-Test series because of the tactics of their coach, Warren Gatland.
Jones said the Lions, who are expected to favour Gatland’s “Warrenball” approach of powerful, direct running, must win the first Test on June 24 or be prepared for a “tough old series”.
“It is going to be very tough for them mate,” Jones told the London Telegraph’s Full Contact podcast.
“They have picked a certain style of team based on the influence of the Welsh coaches. So I think they are looking to attack like Wales with big, gainline runners with not much ball movement.
“I think you struggle to beat the All Blacks like that.”
Gatland, who is Wales’s head coach, led the Lions to a 2-1 victory over Australia on their last tour in 2013.
The New Zealander has Wales’s Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins in his backroom staff, along with England’s Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree.
“The All Blacks are not only a physical contest, it is a big mental contest,” warned Jones, who orchestrated five wins over New Zealand when he was coach of Australia.
“You have to be very disciplined in the way you play, you’ve got to chip away at them.
“You’ve got to keep the pressure on, you’ve got to exert pressure in areas that they don’t like, which is traditionally the close set-piece play but then have the ability when you create opportunities, to turn that into points.
“Ireland did it really well and I think the Lions are going to struggle. If they win the first Test, they win the series. If they don’t, I think it might be a tough old series for them.”
Gatland has said he takes inspiration from Ireland’s shock victory over New Zealand in Chicago last year, which halted a world-record run of 18 straight victories.
Jones added that while Gatland’s Wales play to a “system”, his England side — who have won the last two Six Nations — “play much more with our eyes open” and try to stay alive to opportunities.
The Lions, whose only Test series victory in New Zealand was in 1971, arrive on Wednesday at the start of a nearly six-week tour. – Agence France-Presse