All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has reacted to England coach Eddie Jones' comments about New Zealand rugby with a knowing smile and a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders.
In what is likely to be a long and potentially entertaining rivalry between two coaches who know importance of the battles played off the pitch and in the media, Hansen has agreed with Jones' statements that the All Blacks have weaknesses, and that New Zealand rugby is a big and dominant player in the world game.
Jones, who was at his provocative best during England's June tour of Australia where his side swept Michael Cheika's side in three tests, has begun to turn his sights on Hansen's team when telling the Guardian recently: "We want to be the No1 team in the world. New Zealand are head of the pack but they have flaws in their game. They're a bloody good side but they're beatable. You've got to take on their weaknesses ... and they've got significant weaknesses. I'm not going to share them with you now; in 2018 I will."
The All Blacks, the world champions on a 14-test winning streak, are clearly the best side in the world, but Hansen, who remarked in June that Cheika was "happy to be bullied" by Jones, has laughed off the first shots in what is likely to be a long war, saying: "Eddie's got to make sure we know he's out there, and in this case he's right, isn't he? We do have flaws, but every team has flaws. He's not being a rocket scientist saying that. The key thing is recognising that you have them and making sure that you work away quietly and fix them."
In another interview with the Daily Mail, Jones, an Australian, said New Zealand controlled "every bit of rugby", adding: "Every law that's changed; New Zealand drive it. They control rugby in so many different countries now; in Japan, they are about to control it in Scotland again - the succession plan is already there, in place. In Wales, they control it, Ireland, Georgia," Jones told the Mail.
"They are a smart country. They develop their coaches in New Zealand, they coach to Super Rugby level, become successful, go overseas and coach in the northern hemisphere, so they get a full education. They come back to New Zealand and are ready to coach the All Blacks."
Again, Hansen was happy to let most of this slide, when replying: "When you look at what he's really saying, he's right there too, with regard to the coaching, anyway. We do [have a big influence]. I think there's a New Zealander coaching Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Japan, the All Blacks, there's been one coaching Australia not so long ago, so our coaches are all around the world. I think he might be pushing the envelope a little bit when he says we control what the laws are. But he's pretty much right [otherwise]. I don't think we'll lose any sleep over it."