England might need more than a $233 million war chest, if they are to challenge the All Blacks at the 2019 World Cup, according to one English rugby writer.
But Eddie Jones’ side does have the edge in three key positions, Nick Cain writes in a regular column for The Rugby Paper.
According to Cain, there is growing frustration in the England camp with the fact there was no way of measuring how close the world’s No 2 side are to the All Blacks until they play in November next year.
Based purely one a man-on-man comparison of the two best starting XVs from the past year, the All Blacks would easily come up trumps, Cain writes.
“A comparison points categorically to New Zealand being superior in almost every department.
“Jones acknowledges the benchmarks set by New Zealand almost every time he talks about them, but it is not until you do a man-for-man audit that the size of the gains his team has to make over the next two years truly comes into focus.”
Three All Blacks stalwarts – Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams – would, however, be pipped by their England counterparts, Cain writes.
He rates loosehead prop Mako Vunipola ahead of Moody, lock Maro Itoje ahead of Whitelock and second five-eighth Owen Farrell ahead of Williams.
“In the other 12 positions the All Blacks are ahead, and it is a reasonable assumption that if England cannot win more than three individual battles then their chance of supplanting New Zealand as world champions is minimal.
“Furthermore, while England followers can argue that it is the sum of their team’s parts that makes them formidable, there are few teams who outstrip New Zealand in terms of collective strength.”
Although England have made huge strides under Jones, the same is true of the All Blacks, Cain writes.
“Nothing illustrates the depth of their playing resources more than the way they made good the loss of first-choice players during their unbeaten autumn run.”
Cain says one particular area of concern for England are in the five-eighths where they lack the punch the All Blacks have with ball-in-hand – and in the loose, where they’re lacking in similar pace.
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“Jones was spot on when he described his side after their [end-of-year] games as, ‘Good, but not bloody good’,” Cain writes.
“He has also said that thanks to England’s Lions contingent his outfit have an ‘outstanding’ dossier on the All Blacks.
“They will need all the insight they can get, because New Zealand went home after a northern tour with an under-strength squad looking bloody good.”
The Rugby Football Union on Thursday said Jones would have unprecedented financial support in England’s efforts to win the Cup in Tokyo with a record war chest of more than £120 million (NZ$233m) to be invested in the professional game over the next two years.