All Black praise for Jones's England

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 20:29

REACTION: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen praised the renewed "work ethic" and "vision" shown by England under Eddie Jones after they equalled the All Blacks' record of 18 consecutive Test wins by a major rugby union nation.

England drew level with the world champions' mark in style, thrashing oldest rivals Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham on Saturday, with Jonathan Joseph's hat-trick among their seven tries.

Victory saw England win their second straight Six Nations title under Australian coach Jones, who has revitalised the team since taking over following their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup.

Jones's men now head to Dublin to face Ireland in the final match of the 2017 Six Nations next weekend knowing a win would see them become the first England side since 1991-92 to win back-to-back Grand Slams.

A win at Lansdowne Road would also see England surpass New Zealand's 18-match winning streak, which started in August 2015 and included Hansen's team lifting the World Cup before Ireland, achieving their first-ever victory over the All Blacks, stopped the run with a dramatic 40-29 success in Chicago in November.

Many have questioned the exact worth of England's achievement given they have not played New Zealand, the world's No.1 ranked side, in their winning sequence and are not due to face the All Blacks again until 2018 at the earliest.

But a sporting Hansen told BBC Radio Five on Sunday: "I'd like to congratulate England on equalling the record.

"It's great for rugby because we want competition and games that people want to watch and get excited by.

"Eddie has come in and installed a want and a desire that probably hasn't been there before.

"Sometimes you get talented players, but they don't have that work ethic.

"It's not the players' fault, but then someone comes in their lives, a parent, a teacher or in this case Eddie as a coach, who instils a work ethic and creates a vision that excites them and people change their habits."

Meanwhile Will Carling, England's captain when they last won consecutive Grand Slams, was in no doubt who would win if the two sides met next week.

"New Zealand," he told the BBC. "They have got more world-class players and more intelligent players."

Jones's oft-stated ultimate goal with England, however, is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan and dethrone the All Blacks.

"This is going to be a fantastic World Cup," said Carling. "New Zealand is still the best team in the world but England are improving."

Former centre Carling added: "I think they (England) are generating a lot of respect and trust with each other that they can deliver under pressure.

"When you are in games and are under pressure it is a trust that the guy next to you will do his job and you just need to concentrate on yours."

England and New Zealand last met in 2014, when the All Blacks won 24-21 at Twickenham, and Hansen forecast their next encounter would be a "cracker".

But the more immediate challenge for New Zealand is a three-Test series at home to the British and Irish Lions in June and July.

The Lions have won just the one series in New Zealand, back in 1971, and their last campaign against the All Blacks, in 2005, ended in a 3-0 series defeat.

But former Wales coach Hansen expected far sterner opposition this year.

"The Six Nations has been a great tournament," he said.

"We've seen the depth of player quality and they will come with probably one of the best Lions teams ever selected."

Agence France-Presse

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