Jones: Tough schedule will help Lions
INTERVIEW: England head coach Eddie Jones believes the British and Irish Lions' tough build-up before the first Test against New Zealand in the 2017 series will favour the tourists.
Many in the rugby world have claimed the Lions are on a hiding to nothing on their tour of New Zealand because of the tough programme they face in attempting to become the first Lions side to win a series over the All Blacks since 1971.
But Jones believes the pre-Test fixtures against a Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei (June 3), New Zealand Maori in Rotorua (June 17) and Super Rugby sides, the Blues (June 7), Crusaders (June 10), Highlanders (June 13) and Chiefs (June 20) will give the Lions a significant advantage.
He told Sky Sports the games organised would allow the Lions to adapt to conditions and to the playing styles expected in the Tests.
"What's going to be interesting is the lead-up games; how much form the Lions can get quickly against Super Rugby teams who are going to be firing," Jones said.
"I think there's a potential advantage there for the Lions. Although it's a tough schedule, everyone acknowledges that, but it gives them a chance to adjust to the pace and the tempo that's going to be played in New Zealand."
At the same time, Jones acknowledged what the All Blacks had achieved in 2016 after the post-World Cup loss of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu.
"It's quite exceptional what they've done and that they've got the capacity to replace icons of the game so quickly.
"The gap they have been the best player and their next best player is a lot smaller than any other country in the world. It's a great credit to New Zealand's development system and their coaches," he said.