Eddie Jones has stoked the fires ahead of England’s World Cup semi-final clash with New Zealand.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game, the England head coach was asked if he would speak to the members of his squad who had played the All Blacks for the British and Irish Lions in 2017 about their opponents. Last autumn he asked them to compile dossiers on the Kiwis, and he was asked yesterday if he would revisit those notes but his response alluded to more shady goings-on.
Jones said: “So you were the bloke up in the apartment block today filming? There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming but it might have been a Japanese fan. I don’t care mate. We have got someone there at [New Zealand training] now. Everyone knows what everyone does so there are no surprises in world rugby anymore. That’s the great thing about the game, you just have to be good enough on the day.”
On the subject of spying, Jones admitted that it was something he’d done in the past but has become virtually redundant with the resources now available to teams. “You just don’t need to do it anymore, you can see everything,” he said. “You can watch everyone’s training on YouTube. There’s no value in doing that sort of thing, absolutely zero. We knew [we were being filmed] from the start, it doesn’t change anything, we love it.”
The comments were made in jest, but the verbal sparring with All Black counterpart Steve Hansen has well and truly started.
In the buildup, Jones has been keen to emphasis his team’s status as underdogs and the strengths of his opponents, but still wanted to reiterate that this New Zealand team are not unbeatable. Last November England just lost out to them 15-16, with the bulk of the players from that game playing this week, as well as being part of the Lions side that drew the 2017 series.
Jones said: “[Our players] know they’re human. They bleed, they drop balls, they miss tackles like every other player,” Jones said. “It’s our job to take the time and space away so that we put them under pressure. New Zealand talk about walking towards pressure, well, this week the pressure is going to be chasing them down the street.
“That’s the reality of it, that’s how we’re approaching it. We’ve got nothing to lose, that’s the exciting thing for us. We can just go out there and play our game. If we’re good enough we’ll win, if we’re not good enough we’ve done our best.
It wasn’t just would-be spies that were getting singled out, either. The Aussie also had some words for the Kiwi media.
“Well, someone has to ask them a question because the New Zealand media doesn’t – you guys are just fans with a keyboard,” said Jone. “Someone has to ask them some questions. The English media, a week ago I was going to get sacked, we couldn’t play. We deal with a completely different situation.”
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