He made accusations of spying, said the pressure was on the All Blacks and had a crack at the Kiwi media but Eddie Jones’ biggest dig at yesterday’s press conference may have been at Richie McCaw.
The England coach held court yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semifinal in Yokohama. The All Blacks and England will clash for the first time at a World Cup since 1999 as Steve Hansen’s men look to make a third straight trip to the final. England last won a semifinal in 2007 before losing to South Africa in the final.
“It’s potentially the last game for their greatest ever coach [Steve Hansen], for their greatest ever captain [Kieran Read],” Jones said yesterday in an attempt to talk up the All Blacks while also trying to add pressure on them.
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While forgetting the fact there’s a bronze final to be played for Saturday’s loser, Jones suggesting Read over McCaw as the All Blacks greatest captain is a pretty big flex.
Read has done a brilliant job replacing McCaw, but his former teammate is the only captain to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup twice. McCaw captained the All Blacks in 110 tests, 97 of which were victories, while Read is expected to lead the side out for the 51st time on Saturday.
In an entertaining and often humorous exchange with journalists, both English and Kiwi, Jones also accused the New Zealand media of being “fans with keyboards”, and asked them to answer some hard questions of the All Blacks and his rival Hansen.
It's all hotting up in the race to succeed Michael Cheika, with even the outgoing Australian coach having his sayhttps://t.co/6D2aY6snfN
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After saying that the England camp were aware their session was being filmed by someone in an apartment overlooking his side’s training session, Jones linked the All Blacks with it and then backtracked slightly by saying there was no value in doing so. He also admitted to doing it himself in 2001.
The mind games continued. Jones said the All Blacks were “consistently good” because they did the basics well. And that Hansen had run “good campaigns” before.
“We don’t have any pressure, mate… no one thinks we can win. There’s 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. There’s no pressure on us. We just have to have a great week, relax and enjoy it.
“They’re looking for their third World Cup so that brings pressure.”
Jones claimed he knew England would play the All Blacks in the semifinal here. Wales play South Africa in the other.
“We trialled some things in November against them and now we’ve got a few things we want to do a little better in this game. And now we’ve got the opportunity to do it.
“I don’t think they’re vulnerable but the pressure is real. The busiest guy for them will be Gilbert Enoka, the mental skills coach. They’ve got to think about winning this three times. It’s potentially the last game for their greatest ever coach [Steve Hansen], and for their greatest ever captain [Kieran Read]. They will be talking about it the whole week. It’s always much harder to defend the World Cup and they’ll be thinking about that.
He added: “Someone has to ask questions, mate because the New Zealand media doesn’t. You guys are just fans with keyboards, so someone’s got to ask them some questions about what’s going on.”
Asked what Hansen would make of it all, Jones replied: “He’ll laugh, I’m sure he will.”
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