NZ still have the edge on England says Dwyer

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 07:10
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INTERVIEW: Former Australia coach Bob Dwyer believes New Zealand would beat England if the sides met now even though a Red Rose team under his former player Eddie Jones are on the verge of equalling the All Blacks' record for successive Test wins.

If England beat Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday they will draw level with world champions New Zealand's record of 18 international victories in a row and have a chance to break it, as well as complete back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams, against Ireland - who ended the All Blacks' run - in Dublin the following weekend.

But a quirk of the fixture calendar means none of England's games in their winning streak have been against New Zealand.

Dwyer, who guided Australia to a maiden World Cup title in 1991 having coached then hooker Jones at Sydney club Randwick, believes New Zealand would not have been as stumped as England were by Italy's 'no-ruck' tactics during their eventual 36-15 home win last week.

"It would have taken New Zealand one tackle, or two at most, to work it out," Dwyer, who praised Italy's "thoughtful" and "intelligent" tactics, told Britain's Rugby Paper on Sunday. 

"Against a team like New Zealand – where every player is schooled to keep going forward interminably, and to do it with urgency – if you don't have people in behind the tackle they will hit through it so hard and fast that they rip you apart."

As for who would win if England and New Zealand were to meet tomorrow, Dwyer said: "Right now, I'd back New Zealand. 

"They have got more players, especially through the Pacific Island connection, with footwork, agility and acceleration to open up defences."

He added: "If you win 18 Test matches in a row when you play almost every nation, it is an outstanding effort - but not playing New Zealand is significant."

Dwyer, however, praised the progress England had made under Jones, appointed after the hosts' first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

"If you take Eddie's selections of [Elliot] Daly, [Maro] Itoje and [Ben] Te'o as each making a a two percent difference and the speed of realignment making another four percent, then that's a 10 percent improvement, which is massive."

Agence France-Presse