Eddie Jones has urged England to act as movie directors rather than extras by producing a blockbuster when the four-year wait to face New Zealand ends at Twickenham on Saturday.
The All Blacks have been installed as overwhelming favourites to win a fixture their head coach Steve Hansen considers to be bigger than last year’s series against the British and Irish Lions.
Jones believes opponents are often bewitched by New Zealand’s dazzling skills, reducing them to the role of spectators as their try-line is repeatedly breached before coming to their senses.
If England are to topple the world champions, Jones insists it is they who must write the script.
“You can either make the movie or be in the movie, and we want to make the movie,” said Jones, whose victory over South Africa as Japan coach at the 2015 World Cup is being made into a film called ‘The Brighton Miracle’.
“Sometimes when you play New Zealand you sit there and you watch and you think ‘they’re the best team in the world, we can’t compete against them’.
“You sit there, eat popcorn, have a can of Pepsi and watch the movie. Then you realise ‘we can be in this’, but by then it’s too late.
“So we want to make the movie, we want to be film directors. We don’t want to sit there and watch it.”
Injury-depleted England are facing the strongest available All Blacks team complete with the likes of Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane and Brodie Retallick, but are buoyed by last Saturday’s stirring victory over South Africa.
To aid their pursuit of a stunning upset, survivors from the 2012 victory at Twickenham and the second Lions in Wellington last year have been canvassed for their views on where New Zealand are vulnerable.
“Thirty-three per cent of our players have beaten them and understand that like any team they’ve got weaknesses and that we’ve got an opportunity to get at them,” Jones said.
“The other 67 percent want to beat them, so we’re happy to go out there and get stuck in.
“If we’re good enough, then we beat them. If we’re not good enough then we work out how we can get good enough. That’s the thing.”
Maro Itoje will once again be asked to carry the fight up front, but the confrontational Lions lock knows he must operate on the right side of a fine disciplinary after giving away three penalties and earning a yellow card in the first 15 minutes against South Africa.
“The way I play is fairly on the line. I need to be competitive and abrasive, but I have to react to the referee better and understand what he is and isn’t going to let go,” he said.
Itoje is joined in the starting XV by former Saracens team-mate Chris Ashton, who makes his first Test start in four years in the hope he will plunder the tries needed to topple the All Blacks.
“Chris is one of the fittest players I have ever come across,” Itoje said.
“If he weren’t a rugby player he’d be a marathon runner because he can run and run for days without getting tired. I wish I had his fitness.”