(Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones believes the six tour matches the British and Irish Lions will play next year ahead of the first test against the All Blacks on June 24 will give the touring side a significant advantage.
Warren Gatland’s team face a Provincial Union XV, New Zealand Maori and four of the country’s Super Rugby sides in a gruelling run of fixtures starting on June 3, before the three-match test series kicks off against the double world champions.
The Lions have not won a series in New Zealand since 1971 and Jones said the ‘Super Series’ fixtures would allow the visitors to adapt to conditions and playing styles expected in the tests.
“What’s going to be interesting is the lead-up games; how much form the Lions can get quickly against Super Rugby teams who are going to be firing,” the 56-year-old Australian told news website Stuff. (www.stuff.co.nz)
“I think there’s a potential advantage there for the Lions. Although it’s a bloody tough schedule, everyone acknowledges that, but it gives them a chance to adjust to the pace and the tempo that’s going to be played in New Zealand.”
Jones also praised the All Blacks, who have continued their dominance despite losing many senior players after the 2015 World Cup triumph.
“It’s quite exceptional what they’ve done and that they’ve got the capacity to replace icons of the game so quickly,” he added.
“The gap they have between the best player and their next best player is a lot smaller than any other country in the world. It’s a great credit to New Zealand’s development system and their coaches.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru