England will need to be careful - Fitzpatrick

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    14 Mar 2017     Getty Images

England stand to claim the world record for most consecutive Test wins among Tier One nations if they can beat Ireland to have 19 wins – one more than the 18 they share with the All Blacks. New Zealand's run was ended by Ireland in Chicago 40-29.


Fitzpatrick told the Evening Standard, "The game in Dublin will be the big challenge and a telling match for England.

"While I see England really challenging New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup, Ireland won't be that far behind. England cannot afford to get too far ahead of themselves.

"I didn't think anyone would get as close to the All Blacks' record so quickly. It is a great achievement and, like the All Blacks, England don't go away in games. But it is very difficult to know how close England are to the All Blacks because they are not playing each other," he said.

Another former All Black, and Fitzpatrick's team-mate, Zinzan Brooke was in no doubt.

"To win 19 consecutive matches would be an achievement, but you have to beat the No.1 team in the world in that run.

"England can beat the All Blacks' record but you would have hoped that in those 19 matches they would have come across New Zealand. Ireland will chuck the kitchen sink at England in Dublin," he said.
Fitzpatrick was surprised that England had not played in similar style to that when they met Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Fiji in the November Tests.

"Watching the Six Nations, it is a different style of rugby compared to how England played in the autumn against the Southern Hemisphere teams. It is a more attritional game and not as open as the way Ireland played against the All Blacks in Chicago," he said.

"I find it strange that you would change styles. Maybe their skills set is still developing, even though they are better than they were 12 months ago," he said.

Jones had developed a game plan with players capable of playing to that style and their skills were increasing while they were more focused.

Hard work was paying dividends while Jones was also developing the benefits of his substitutes' bench to achieve the sort of effect the All Blacks were able to in the last quarter of games.

That would be crucial to hopes in 2019 in Tokyo, Fitzpatrick said.