Editorial: Lions series chance for coach super-showdown

The All Black coach has proved his chops twice at the pinnacle of the game, with successive World Cups. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The All Black coach has proved his chops twice at the pinnacle of the game, with successive World Cups. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The final whistle sounds tonight on the Welsh tour, but already the test table is being set for the real deal before the next Rugby World Cup - the British and Irish Lions tour next year. Or hopefully, a clash between coaching titans Steve Hansen and Eddie Jones.

The All Black coach has proved his chops twice at the pinnacle of the game, with successive World Cups. Jones is breathing down his neck. The chirpy Australian engineered a famous Japanese victory last year over South Africa, and has heaped misery on his native land this winter with England's surprising series win over the Wallabies. Tonight the Red Rose is searching for a whitewash, the same result New Zealand wants to achieve against Wales in Dunedin.

Hansen entered the contest across the Tasman with an observation that testy Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had allowed himself to be "bullied" by Jones. The potshot did not sit well with Cheika, who complained that it was easy to kick blokes when they're down.

From this side of the ditch it seems Hansen's real target was Jones, who has made it clear that having dispatched Australia - previously No 2 in rugby's pecking order - his next priority is dealing to the All Blacks.

New Zealand and England are not destined to meet until 2018. Jones could change that by making himself available to bring the Lions down here next year, a job he has so far ruled out.

But if he really wants a crack at the world champions - and the chance to add an All Black series scalp to his greatest hits collection - he should accept Hansen's challenge. The oval ball is in Jones' hands.

- NZ Herald

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