New Zealand coach Steve Hansen says he is not playing media mind games, after Eddie Jones reacted suspiciously to the Kiwi’s praise of England’s record-equalling run.
“Eddie’s obviously not very used to getting compliments,” Hansen replied.
“So he’s got to try and brush it off.”
Victory for England against Ireland on Saturday would be a record-breaking 19th in a row, and would seal a second straight Six Nations Grand Slam for Jones’ men.
Hansen told 5 live that Jones has instilled a worth ethic previously lacking in England’s team, but Jones replied: “You’ve always got to be careful of compliments, particularly from an All Blacks coach.”
But Hansen says England deserve to be talked up.
“It’s not about playing a game. In this case I – and the team – genuinely believe they should be complimented,” he told Radio Sport NZ.
“They’ve done a tremendous job. Sport is about paying due when it is due, and they’ve done a good job, so well done.”
New Zealand and England are ranked as the top two sides in the world, but the teams are unlikely to meet until the autumn of 2018.
Hansen says all his immediate focus is on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand this summer.
“If you can’t be motivated to meet the Lions – a team made up of four countries who only come here every 12 years – then you are in trouble aren’t you.
“Our focus is on getting ready for the Lions. That’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
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