Rugby World Cup 2019

Rugby: England must start strong to beat the All Blacks: Jones

England coach Eddie Jones kicking the ball next to captain Owen Farrell during a training session ahead of last Saturday's quarter-final victory over Australia. In the semi-finals, they will take on New Zealand on Saturday while Wales face South Afri
England coach Eddie Jones kicking the ball next to captain Owen Farrell during a training session ahead of last Saturday's quarter-final victory over Australia. In the semi-finals, they will take on New Zealand on Saturday while Wales face South Africa on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

OITA • Eddie Jones believes England have the weapons to upset New Zealand in Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final - as long as his players are not dazzled by the All Blacks' stardust.

They are daring to dream after smashing Australia 40-16 last Saturday, but Jones knows his side have a mountain to climb in the shape of treble-chasing New Zealand when the heavyweights clash in Yokohama.

"You always want to play the best and they are the best - no one can dispute that," said the Australian.

"You want to be the best in the world, you have to beat the best.

"New Zealand are a great team with a great coach and captain, but like any team, they are beatable."

He pointed to the aura of invincibility built up by the All Blacks, who destroyed Ireland 46-14 in the quarter-finals and were last beaten in a World Cup match in 2007.

"I thought that happened (with) Ireland. They really only got stuck in when the game was lost. Against any of the best teams, you have to go hard from the start. That's going to be important for us," Jones said.

England were edged out 16-15 by New Zealand at a rain-soaked Twickenham last November in their only meeting since Jones took charge following their 2015 World Cup pool-stage exit under Stuart Lancaster.

After reaching the semi-finals for the first time in 12 years, England's players are on the cusp of greatness, according to Jones.

"The reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great," he said.

"That was the challenge and they are starting to believe it. We have a challenge this week because we are playing the greatest team that there have ever been in sport.

"We've got to look at it as almost a one-off game rather than try to link it to past performances."

Jones, whose starting wingers Jonny May and Anthony Watson contributed three tries against Australia, insisted it was the hard yards on the training pitch, and not pure talent, that has England's current crop standing on the shoulders of giants.

"You've got to have talent to get in the front door - but then you've got to have work ethic, you've got to be relentless," he said.

"Work's hard, most people don't want to do it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'England must start strong to beat the All Blacks: Jones'. Print Edition | Subscribe