England head coach Eddie Jones has poured cold water on the claim that there is something extra special about playing New Zealand.
Jones rejected the idea that the All Blacks have an ‘aura’ and that teams are sometimes beaten before they have even taken to the field.
These sides have not played since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where the Red Rose produced their best performance under the head coach to secure a 19-7 triumph in the semi-final.
Ability to bully teams
“New Zealand’s always there for the taking,” Jones said. “Why else do you go and play against them if they’re not there for the taking?
“Well, to me they never had an aura. To me, as I said, they’re always there for the taking. I always enjoy coaching against New Zealand because you’re coaching against the best team and you want to be playing against the best.
“So, to me, they’ve never had an aura, they’ve had a lot of power and a lot of ways to bully teams and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t get bullied on Saturday.”
Jones did praise the All Blacks for their resurgence after a difficult start to the campaign, which saw them lose four of their opening six matches.
“I think they’ve done remarkably well to come back from where they were. I remember watching them get beaten very conclusively by South Africa (in the Rugby Championship),” he said.
“They came back the next week, played superbly to win and went on to win the Rugby Championship. What a fantastic achievement.
“New Zealand have won five or six in a row now, they’re a team that’s redeveloping.
“They’ve had some of their older players being injured but they have Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock back now, (Ardie) Savea is at his best, so they’ve got a great combination of players and I’m sure they’re going to be at their best on Saturday.”
Marcus Smith’s development
New Zealand will no doubt look to put pressure on England’s young fly-half Marcus Smith, who is still finding his feet in Test rugby.
Smith’s partnership with captain Owen Farrell has yet to truly fire but Jones has been impressed with how the Harlequins playmaker has progressed.
“When you’re a young 10 coming through, you start and everyone gets excited, and then the game teaches you that it’s not all about excitement,” he said.
“There’s tough periods in the game, and I haven’t seen a 10 in world rugby not experience it.
“Marcus is going through this extraordinarily quick development as a player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 10 develop as quickly as him.
“He understands there are ups and downs, he understands there is praise and there is criticism, and you have got to accept it.”
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The article Eddie Jones: New Zealand ‘never had an aura’ and are ‘always there for the taking’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.