Eddie Jones has admitted that his work with England is geared towards beating New Zealand, and believes losing key players to the British & Irish Lions tour this summer will only help build the squad depth needed to do so.
England have enjoyed a stellar first year under their Australian coach, winning all of their 13 matches in 2016, to banish the painful memories of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
They are not scheduled to face the All Blacks before the next World Cup in Japan, but that has not stopped Jones plotting the world champions’ downfall.
“Every game we play now, we are trying to put together a game that will beat New Zealand,” Jones told former England boss Sir Clive Woodward in the Daily Mail.
Jones suggested that he will rest his frontline England players during November’s autumn internationals, giving their understudies further exposure to Test match rugby.
“The only part of 2017 I can really control is the Six Nations, all our focus is on that. Post Six Nations we are going to lose 10 to 15 of our players to the Lions,” he said.
“Maybe those players won’t play for us in the November [internationals] because they will have played probably twice the number of postseason games they will normally have played. We don’t have to rest them.
“But speaking to a number of players who have been on Lions tours, they found those November matches to be the hardest — so I think we have to be smart about it. I look on 2017 as a massive opportunity to increase the depth of the squad.”
Having won their final game under Jones’ predecessor, Stuart Lancaster, England are just four victories short of the record set by the All Blacks last year.
“If we can sit down in the last week of November and say we have got 45 guys who can play test rugby at the level that will be required at the 2019 World Cup, then this year will have been an enormous year for us,” Jones added.
“And if we lose a few battles on the way, it will help us win the war. We had a camp back in August when we interviewed all the players about their ambitions for 2017 and out of the 45 players attending, only one player spoke about the Lions.
“Most of the players want to play for England first but they realise that a consequence of playing well for England is that they might get to tour for the Lions.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/18417897/eddie-jones-england-searching-game-beat-new-zealand
Jones searching for formula to beat All Blacks
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