Eddie Jones has braced England to face the most dominant team in the history of sport but is convinced New Zealand can still be dethroned in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final.
Jones points to the All Blacks’ win percentage of 86 since lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy four years ago to support his view that they occupy a unique position despite competing in the Rugby Championship each year.
A 46-14 demolition of Ireland has set up a seismic showdown in Yokohama but Jones insists his quarter-final conquerors of Australia have the potential to seize greatness for themselves.
“If you look at their record I don’t think there’s a team that comes close to them for sustainability. Since the last World Cup they’ve won a high percentage of their Tests.
“Name me another team in the world that plays at the absolute top level that wins so many of their games.
“They are playing in the toughest competition in the world against the best all the time. I just admire them. To do what they do from a small country is incredible.
“You have to admire them, but then the challenge is to beat them and the reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great. That was the challenge and they are starting to believe it.
“New Zealand are a great team with a great coach with a great captain, but like any team they are beatable and there are ways to beat them. We know that with a World Cup semi-final the whole sporting world is looking on.”
England must negotiate the toughest assignment of all if they are to reach the final for the first time since 2007, but Jones welcomes the challenge.
“We are in a World Cup in a neutral country, referees, crowd, atmosphere and the teams that adapt are the ones making it to the end of the competition,” Jones said.
“Now talent doesn’t matter – it’s all about how strong the team is. When you get to this stage of the tournament, it’s about how strong the team is.
“We’re a strong team and we’re getting stronger all the time. We’re believing in each other, we believe in the way we play. We’re playing to our strengths.
“Look at the second-half score against Australia – it was 23-7. That doesn’t come from blowing magic dust, it comes from working hard.”
Michael Cheika has reacted to Australia’s World Cup demise by announcing his resignation as head coach but Jones bristled when asked if he had any comforting words for his compatriot.
“I spoke to Michael. Of course he was (heartbroken). One of us was going to be like that, weren’t we? That’s what it is, that’s what happens now.
“If you win you are happy, if you lose you are bloody sad. But it’s not the job of the winning coach to have sympathy for the losing coach, and it’s not the job of the losing coach to be happy for the winning coach.
“We make a choice, we make a choice to take this job. Let’s not get too emotional and silly about this.
“I’m not an Australian, I’m coaching England, I’m an England coach if you hadn’t worked that out. Maybe you have to work that out.”