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All Blacks still the test for Lions and England

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    27 Jun 2016     Getty Images

No fixture has been scheduled between Eddie Jones' England side which completed a 3-0 whitewash of Australia on Saturday, but it is speculated they will meet in the 2017 Autumn internationals.

Former Scotland and Lions coach and player Sir Ian McGeechan said England were two years behind the All Blacks.

England had been outstanding in their 3-0 win over Australia, he said in The Sunday Telegraph.

"It is a magnificent achievement, but the truth is that they are still some distance behind New Zealand.

"In fact, I would say they are two years behind the world champions. New Zealand are still ahead of England and everyone else, simply because of their all-court game. Even with the great players they have lost.

"I think they have already shown that they can still play the game where they are so comfortable in the wide channels and they are so good and accurate with their offloads once they get on the front foot. There is a collective reaction to find the players in space.

"You can also see their intent to play when they disregard the hooter at the end of a half or at fulltime. They just keep going when other sides would kick the ball out and say: 'We have done the job.'

"No other team can match that intensity or commitment at the moment. You have to try to stay with them all the time and hope that the scoreboard falls your way at the end, because they will never let up and have a habit of scoring at the critical times."

McGeechan added that Wales coach Warren Gatland would realise, should he be named Lions coach again, that he would have to play differently against the All Blacks then his Wales side did.

"Playing set-piece rugby, or even-paced rugby, will not defeat the All Blacks," he said.

Wales had tried and failed because they did not have the variety of runners New Zealand were able to put into the wide channels, nor the forwards to get out into those areas.

He would be looking for players in Britain capable of taking an open mind into next year's series with the aim of playing the sort of rugby that could trouble the All Blacks.

Jeremy Guscott in The Rugby Paper asked if England, when they take their play up a notch, would be able to compete with the All Blacks.

"New Zealand still look to have an edge in their ability to attack with fluidity. They are so slick and precise it's like a black wave coming at you. England still have a way to go to match that," he said.

Brendan Gallagher, also in The Rugby Paper, asked how much longer England's 'unstoppable winning momentum' could continue? It was unknown because the feeling was so different to recent England sides.

"We know that New Zealand operate for ever and a day at this level of intensity while England have managed only briefly, under Clive Woodward in his last two-to-three seasons in charge," he said.

Veteran England writer Peter Jackson commented in The Rugby Paper: "When confronted by the finest counter-attacking team on the planet, it is not advisable to kick too deep. Wales did that and kept doing it, literally playing into New Zealand's hands.

"Ben Smith and George Moala, to name but two of a whole squadron of fliers, are dangerous enough without giving them time and space to pick their angles. Beauden Barrett never looks a gift house in the mouth and before Wales thought about trying to close the stable door, every single thoroughbred had bolted."

Former Wales and Lions star Barry John said in Wales on Sunday the All Blacks had been outstanding in running in 'six wonderful tries, some of them quite sensational'.

John was critical of Wales' kicking inaccuracy and what happened when giving top-quality players free possession.

"Look no further than Israel Dagg. What a player, what a performance.

"I like the way Beauden Barrett plays. He shows some sublime touches, he reads the game well and looks the part to take them forward, while Aaron Smith at scrum-half is the link man extraordinaire," he said.