England will face the All Blacks on Saturday (9am ko) for a place in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final
By PA Media
Last Updated: 20/10/19 10:50pm
Eddie Jones has braced England to face the most dominant team in the history of sport but is convinced New Zealand can still be beaten 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.
“We have a challenge this week because we are playing the greatest team that has ever been in sport,” said Jones.
“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.
“It’s an example of what you can do. People are raving about Japan at the moment and it’s fantastic but you look at what New Zealand have done with four-million people.
“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.
“You always want to play the best and New Zealand are the best – no one can dispute that. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to beat the best.
“They’re a great side. We know that. You just look at their record. They’ve got a 90 per cent winning record since the World Cup.
“But, like any team, there are areas you can get at and our job this week is to find those areas, and be able to execute it.”