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Jones' 'they are there for the taking' warning for the All Blacks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has issued a “we’re going to go after them” warning to the All Blacks after declaring himself impressed with Saturday’s seven-try, 52-13 win for England over Japan – even though he felt that his team’s much improved attack still left upwards of 20 more points behind them.

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England had fallen to their fifth defeat in nine 2022 matches last Sunday against Argentina, but they confidently bounced back despite the six-day turnaround and strong periods in the early parts of the first and second halves left them comfortably 38-6 clear with a half-hour remaining.

Next up at Twickenham will be the All Blacks next weekend, a first meeting between the countries since their semi-final clash at the 2019 World Cup, and Jones believes that beating New Zealand again isn’t a mission impossible despite England’s inconsistent form in recent times.

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“We had a quick chat after the game,” he said when asked to look ahead to the third England match of this Autumn Nations Series. “It is an opportunity to play against one of the giants of world rugby. They are in a redevelopment period in their game. They are about to play Scotland tomorrow [Sunday] so we will see them play and then have a chat how we played against them.

“It is a great opportunity. For an England player it is a massive opportunity. You look at the history of the sport, the game has been going for what, 150 years, and England have won 22 per cent of Tests against New Zealand.

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“So there is a narrative about the game that says England can’t beat New Zealand – and 2019 World Cup we showed that if you have got the right attitude, if you have got the right game plan, then that history can be broken. So we have got a great opportunity this coming week to break history here and we are looking forward to the opportunity.

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“There will be certain things in that (2019) game that we did well that will be important in the next game and there will be certain things that we did well in that game that won’t be important because their team has changed, they have a different coach so they are playing a slightly different style of rugby than they used to.

“But certainly the guys that played in that game, guys like Owen (Farrell) and Mako (Vunipola) and Billy (Vunipola) and Jamie George and Maro (Itoje) are going to be important in reinforcing to the players that it is not mission impossible, that if we go after them then they are there for the taking – and we are going to go after them.”

Reflecting on what unfolded against the Japanese, Jones added: “It’s an improvement. As we said at the start of November, each game we want to get a little bit better and we were definitely better than the Argentina game.

“I thought we played with a lot of purpose, we knew exactly how we wanted to play. And as I said in the round up after Argentina, the fault that we didn’t play well was my poor coaching so this week it’s not my poor coaching, it’s the good play from the players. I thought the players were outstanding the way they applied themselves. They had a lot of really good purpose.”

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Skipper Farrell agreed, but with the caveat that there is much more to do if the All Blacks are to be turned over. “It definitely felt more like us, it felt like more what we are capable of. We’re not there yet, there is a few things to tidy up but in terms of intent, in terms of getting the best out of ourselves, I thought that was miles better.

“We have had a short turnaround this week and had a big shift in attitude and we have got seven days together now to see how more better we can get, how much closer we can get to see how tight we we can become as a team, to push our rugby and make sure we turn up with the right attitude again.”

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