Eddie Jones does not think anyone outside the England camp believes they can beat New Zealand in a blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.
New Zealand go into the clash in Yokohama two victories away from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time in succession, but Jones is happy to be the underdog.
The Australian said this week “the pressure will be chasing [the All Blacks] down the street”, while his team could play without the burden of expectation.
Although Jones admitted to a degree of anxiety about the clash, he hopes to help his team thrive against the favourites for success in Japan.
“There’s always nerves – you’re only human – but there’s that mixture between being nervous and excited which is the reason you coach,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“To be involved in a game like this is the most fantastic experience as a coach, and it’s what you live for.
“Out of one hundred journalists in the room, as we saw, 97 think New Zealand are going to win.
“The three who put up their hands put them up timidly and hoped no one saw them put up their hands.
“Our 31 players plus 20-odd staff believe we can win, and we’re the only people in Japan who believe we can win. We’ll take that situation and maximise it.”
“We’ve picked a team that’s equipped to play the game we want to play.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 24, 2019
Jones’ men have lost their past six matches against New Zealand but 11 players in the squad for Saturday’s match have experience of beating the All Blacks, either in England’s 38-21 victory in December 2012 or the British and Irish Lions’ second Test success in 2017.
The England boss believes that will hold the team in good stead as they look to cause an upset.
“I think traditionally when you play against New Zealand, the pace and intensity of the game gets you,” said Jones.
“If you have experienced that before, you understand what you have got to prepare yourself for, and most of our squad have been involved in those games so we’ve got great experience.
“They know what New Zealand are going to bring to the game and they have practised this week to be equipped for it.
“We are ready for the game, we’ve had two-and-a-half years to prepare for this game so we are ready to go.”
George Ford will return at fly-half in the only change for England, while Steve Hansen’s sole alteration for the All Blacks sees Scott Barrett replace Sam Cane.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta