England stars dig out Lions "notes" on how to beat All Blacks

by AAP & Staff Writer

England players were studying how to beat the All Blacks during the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour, and will use those lessons to down the Kiwis at Twickenham on Sunday.

So revealed coach Eddie Jones this week as England prepare to take on the world no.1 All Blacks for the first time in four years.

A clash two sides has been long anticipated, particularly after Jones took the English side to great heights, winning Six Nations titles and 25 from 26 games over 2016-17.

But while a scheduling quirk ensured the Kiwis and England haven’t played since 2014, Jones said his side had taken plenty from the Lions’ series in New Zealand last year, which finished a 1-1 draw.

England provided a sizeable contingent of players in the top Lions side, and were on reconnaissance duty for Jones during their trip.

“When our boys played for the Lions we got them to do notes about what they felt worked and didn’t work,” Jones told English media.

“We’ve gone through those notes and had a meeting with the senior players. The Lions put a lot of pressure on the All Blacks in areas they didn’t enjoy. There’s a bit to be learned there.

“We need to be absolutely brutal upfront and we need to be clinical when we get opportunities,” he said. “If you look back at that Lions series, the Lions would have won if they had been more clinical.”

Jones said beating New Zealand was the pinnacle of achievements in rugby, and joked that an All Blacks loss sends the country into a depressed tailspin.

“When you beat New Zealand, you climb Everest,” Jones said.

“Rugby means so much to them. When they win the whole country’s buoyant, when they lose GDP falls and unemployment goes up. I don’t think [England beating South Africa] will have such a significant effect on Brexit here. Imagine if Theresa May comes out and says: ‘We got the result because we hung in there.’ I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Jones’ joke about beating New Zealand may bring out a few angry trolls but one person likely to get a wry grin is his opposite Steve Hansen.

Hansen revelaed on Monday he and Jones were secretly good mates, and while the Aussie wasn’t “everyone’s cup of tea”, the All Blacks coach liked him.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen will set aside his friendship with his England counterpart when their teams meet at Twickenham on Saturday, expecting Eddie Jones to have done his homework on the world champions.

Hansen said he and the Australian speak or text roughly once a fortnight: "You don't ring up people you don't like, just because they are doing the same job as you," Hansen told a news conference on London on Monday.

"The bottom line is, we talk and our wives talk. And that's not surprising. I think he's a good bloke."

Former Wallabies mentor Jones was the darling of English rugby after winning 25 of his first 26 tests in charge, but is now under fire after England lost five matches in a row this year.

"The only people that don't understand what it's like to be a head coach of an international team are the people who have never been one," Hansen said.

"There is a lot of pressure there all the time. Whether you are winning or losing. It's just in a different wrapper.

"Eddie, more than anybody, understands that. So he's not too bothered by it."

Hansen said Jones's experience means the All Blacks will be tested at Twickenham, even if England are depleted by injuries.

"He's got a tremendous work ethic, Eddie; he does a lot of homework, and through that he will have identified some areas he'll want to try to target," added Hansen.

"I have got a lot of time for him, a lot of respect for him. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think he's a good man.

New Zealand takes on England at Twickenham on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports 1 Channel 513.