Image:Rugby Union – Rugby Test – England v Australia’s Wallabies – Melbourne, Australia – 18/06/16. England head coach Eddie Jones (R) celebrates with players after defeating Australia. REUTERS/Brandon Malone
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – England coach Eddie Jones admits his side have a way to go yet but believes they are on track to challenge New Zealand’s long dominance of the game in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup.
Elevated to number two in the world behind the All Blacks after beating the Wallabies in back-to-back tests to win their first series in Australia, England can solidify their position with victory in Sydney on Saturday.
“I think it’s good for world rugby for England to be strong,” Jones told reporters on Monday.
“New Zealand have been up there all the time and it’s about time someone put in a real challenge to them and we’re going to be the side to put the challenge to them.
“We’ve got massive areas of our game we need to improve. We need to improve the consistency of our line-out, we need to improve the consistency of our breakdown and then we need to develop the way we want to attack.
“And they are all things we can do over the next three years to take us on the road where we need to go.”
Although impressed by England’s defensive performance in the 23-7 second test victory in Melbourne, Jones said his team needed a “sounder all-round game” if they were to challenge New Zealand, who they next meet in 2018.
“New Zealand’s the most pragmatic team in the world, they kick more than any team,” he said.
“If we need to kick, we’ll kick, if we need to run, we’ll run, if we need to pass, we’ll pass.”
Jones said he had been “really impressed” by the discipline of his players and the captaincy of hooker Dylan Hartley in a sometimes fractious second test.
“I think the Wallabies went out there … and deliberately targeted some of our players so it was a good test and I think we handled that test pretty well,” he said.
“We’re going to get another one on Saturday.”
Despite the heroic effort of the Melbourne victory, Jones said he was looking for England’s best performance of the tour at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“For us, this third test is something like a World Cup final, to win a World Cup you’ve got to win three big games in a row,” he added.
“You’ve got to win a quarter-final, the semi-final and the final. It’s a great dress rehearsal for us.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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