Tuesday 23 July 2019

Jones dips into Lions' playbook for his All Black game-plan

Jones: Hoping to be clinical. Photo: Reuters
Jones: Hoping to be clinical. Photo: Reuters

Mick Cleary

Eddie Jones believes he has the blueprint for beating New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon, a result that would be akin to "climbing Everest".

The England head coach sat down with his senior players on Sunday night to work through the notes they had compiled from their Lions experiences in New Zealand last year, when the All Blacks were defeated in Wellington and the series drawn.

Jones also pointed to his win ratio as a former Wallaby coach of 42pc against them, as well as the insider knowledge that former All Black player and head coach John Mitchell brings in his new capacity as England defence coach.

"When our boys played for the Lions we got them to do notes about what they felt worked and didn't work," said Jones. "We've gone through those notes.

We had a meeting with the senior players on Sunday night and we have a pretty good idea how we want to play against New Zealand.

"With that Lions knowledge, and John's as well, we have a pretty good idea of what they're going to bring but you have got to be good enough to beat them.

"The Lions put a lot of pressure on the All Blacks in areas they didn't enjoy and were able to get them off rhythm. They put pressure on their line-out and took a lot of tempo out of it. At times, too, they put pressure on their playmakers, but you have got to be able to do that consistently well.

"You have got to play a certain way against them, there is no doubt about that.

"There are parts of the game that they enjoy and you want to take that away from them.

"You need to be absolutely brutal up front and be clinical when opportunities come.

"The Lions would have won the series if they had been clinical. The challenge is to make New Zealand feel as though they are not confident, that there is something at the back of their head that they have got to scratch."

Jones professes enormous admiration for New Zealand as well as for their head coach Steve Hansen.

There will be no resorting to any pre-match verbals from Jones, as was the case when he came up against his one-time Randwick team-mate, Wallaby head coach Michael Cheika.

"Steve (Hansen) has been round the block too many times," said Jones, who hails the All Blacks' win record of 91pc as the best in the sporting world.

The Australian is well aware of how difficult a task it will be to implement the game-plan he and his squad have been working on, but he knows just what an upbeat feeling it is to win against the All Blacks.

"You climb Everest when you beat New Zealand," said Jones.

"You change their whole country. You're respected. Rugby means so much to them. I have never coached against a New Zealand side that doesn't expect to win.

"It is in their blood. You go to a sandwich shop and they tell you how they're going to beat you.

"You go to fill up your car and they tell you how they're going to beat you.

"It is in the psyche of their country. When they win the whole country is buoyant. When they lose, the GDP falls, unemployment goes up, everything changes, that's the effect you have.

"I don't think we've had that sort of effect on Brexit by beating South Africa. Theresa May won't be coming out to say we got the (Brexit) result because the rugby team hung in there."

England will train for the first time this week today, with a full session taking place tomorrow. Sale flanker Tom Curry has been ruled out with the ankle injury that forced him off against South Africa. Jones, though, remains "cautiously optimistic", that Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, who withdrew from bench duties against the Springboks with a groin strain, and Northampton lock Courtney Lawes will be available for selection.


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