TOKYO (Reuters) - No sooner had England swatted aside Australia to set up a Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, than coach Eddie Jones was slowly stirring the psychological war.
“We are happy to play anyone,” he said after Saturday’s 40-16 win over the Wallabies in Oita, before cheekily adding “I have got a soft spot for New Zealand and I would love to play them in a semi-final.”
A strange wish to want to face the world number one team, but Jones’s wish came true when the All Blacks pummelled Ireland later on Saturday in a lopsided 46-14 affair.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen wasn’t interested in being drawn into the debate, though.
“I’m looking forward to playing them too,” he said, before shutting the issue down. “I don’t think tonight is the right time for us to be talking about them,” Hansen told reporters in Tokyo.
“We’ve got a formula... test matches are hard work. So now we are going to step off the merry-go-round and relax. Enjoy our moment because that was a very special test match.
“We will enjoy our moment, the fans and the players.
“We won’t think about England until tomorrow.”
Editing by Toby Davis