Eddie Jones compares the praise England have received from New Zealand coach Steve Hansen to the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood being deceived by the wolf.
Hansen congratulated the RBS 6 Nations champions for retaining their title by overwhelming Scotland 61-21, despite seeing the All Blacks’ record of 18 successive Test wins equalled at Twickenham on Saturday.
The mastermind of the 2015 World Cup triumph insisted that England are finally fulfilling their potential, playing the “sort of rugby people want to see”, and offered Jones the message of “well done, champ. It’s thoroughly deserved, well done”.
In a frustrating quirk of the international fixture list, the game’s top two teams are being kept apart until autumn 2018 when a seismic showdown is to be staged at Twickenham.
Jones is wary of Hansen’s approval, however, as the rival coaches exchange words for the first time since England’s rise as a genuine threat to New Zealand’s global dominance.
“It’s a bit like red riding hood and the wolf when the wolf comes dressed up as the grandmother,” Jones said.
“You always have to be careful when All Black coaches compliment you, you always have to be careful.”
If Ireland are toppled in Dublin on Saturday, as well eclipsing the All Blacks’ 18-Test milestone Dylan Hartley’s men will become only the sixth team to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.
The seven-try scattering of Scotland — the best attacking display under Jones — has powered England towards the finishing line, but it took a “cleansing” discussion involving the entire squad and coaches held a fortnight ago to reignite the champions after an unconvincing first half of the tournament.
“We had a bit of a cleansing meeting when we were in camp in Oxford,” Jones said.
“Not that we felt we weren’t doing what we needed to do, but we just felt we needed to reset our minds a little bit.
“It was about accepting that we’ve been successful. To me the English are quite reserved and they actually struggle quite a bit with success.
“I know the perception from the Celts is that it’s the opposite — they think the English are arrogant.
“As an Australian, I think the English are very polite and reserved.
“And they struggle to actually carry that success around.
“What we said, and we had a great discussion, is that we have to acknowledge we’ve been successful and it’s how much we want to be great now.
“I thought we were always going to play well against Scotland — and I think we’ll play better this week.”
The clash with Ireland will be the last time England’s full squad are together until the autumn due to the interruption of the British and Irish Lions tour and Jones has outlined the stakes on offer at the Aviva Stadium.
“How many opportunities in your life do you get to beat Ireland in Ireland to win back-to-back Grand Slams? It’s almost a childhood dream as a rugby player,” Jones said.
“The players realise they have a once in a lifetime opportunity here.
“History shows that winning back-to-back Grand Slams happens once every 27 years.
“None of these players is going to be playing in 27 years so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
England were denied a Grand Slam at the final hurdle in Dublin six years ago and Clive Woodward has stated that the same outcome on Saturday would render their Six Nations a “failure”.
“Some guys carry a few scars from 2011 and those scars always help in the battle because you don’t want them again,” Jones said, “It is very easy for us to go from where we are to failures. We have worked too hard to want to be failures so we learn from the previous experiences.
“Failure is all relative, but we want to win back-to-back Grand Slams. We just have to try and play good rugby and our target is to be Grand Slam champions.”
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