Rugby World Cup: England boss Jones out to knock All Blacks off their perch… just like pal Fergie did to Liverpool

THE Kiwi is a flightless bird so the analogy is not perfect.

But when Sir Alex Ferguson took over at Manchester United, his stated aim was to “knock Liverpool off their f***ing perch”.

Rugby World Cup: England boss Jones out to knock All Blacks off their perch… just like pal Fergie did to Liverpool2 Eddie Jones wants to knock New Zealand off their perch as the world's bestCredit: Getty
Rugby World Cup: England boss Jones out to knock All Blacks off their perch… just like pal Fergie did to Liverpool2 England are hoping to shock the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-finalCredit: Getty

Now Eddie Jones, a regular lunching partner of the great Old Trafford godfather, is ready to perform the same knock-off job on New Zealand.

The England head coach laid it on the line to his players here in their Disneyland hotel yesterday, urging them to change the course of rugby history by dethroning the back-to-back world champions.

Jones has been bullish in targeting World Cup glory in Yokohama ever since he took the Red Rose job in 2015.

And he has not gone all shy on us now — adamant that he wants to use tomorrow’s semi-final to end the All Black’s dominance over the world game.

When Fergie’s famous line about the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1980s was put to him, he replied: “That’s what we’ve got the opportunity to do.

“When you’ve been involved in rugby the country you want to knock off is New Zealand, because they’ve been the best.

“And the reason you’re involved in this game is you want to be the best. You’ve got the opportunity to change rugby history on Saturday and the whole team is excited about it.”

England’s confidence has been surging since an emphatic 40-16 quarter-final defeat of Australia last weekend.

Jones gambled by axing his in-form fly-half George Ford last week but despite the success of that punt, he has recalled him and switched Owen Farrell back to centre for this ultimate test.

And the England boss was only too keen to talk up the significance of this occasion. He spoke of a great contest between “two heavyweights, one dressed in black, one dressed in white”.

Rugby World Cup: England boss Jones out to knock All Blacks off their perch… just like pal Fergie did to LiverpoolCredit: Sun Graphics

And asked when he first started believing England could bring down New Zealand, Jones said: “The first day I got the job in 2015.

"I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think we could be the best in the world. We’re not the best in the world but we’ve an opportunity to go a step further.”

While no member of this England squad has ever played in a World Cup semi-final before, Jones insists his players have ample big-match experience.

He added: “Every game they play at the Six Nations, the other country is coming for them. We play Scotland at Murrayfield, they come for us; Ireland at Lansdowne Road, they come for us.

“Players have had big-match experience, they’ve failed, they’ve had success and that’s one of the things I like about this team. We’ve had to learn from those wins and from those losses.”

Jones has previous for defeating the Kiwis in a World Cup semi — when his Australia side knocked them out in 2003.

And he said: “New Zealand were heavily favoured to win and most people think New Zealand are going to win this. That’s the reality.

“We’ve got 31 players and 20-odd staff think we can win — we’re the only people in Japan who think we can.

“No one thinks we can win and it’s the same as Australia in 2003.”

And Jones is adamant tomorrow’s clash will go down to the wire. He said: “It’s never a knockout punch.

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"Our first 20 minutes, both sides will test each other; the All Blacks traditionally score most of their points in the second 20 minutes of the first half and the second 20 of the second half.

“The most crucial stage is going to be the second 20 minutes of the second half, where the game’s going to be won or lost.

“We’ve been diligent in selecting our team to take that into consideration. In fact we selected our finishing team before our starting team.”

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