Springboks skipper: England not as good as All Blacks

England's George Ford scores against South Africa. Photo / AP
England's George Ford scores against South Africa. Photo / AP

Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss says England are not as good as the All Blacks but are definitely the second best team in world rugby.

Speaking after the Eddie Jones-coached Englishmen defeated South Africa for the first time in their past 12 outings, Strauss conceded England and New Zealand's were definitely international rugby's best two teams but it was the All Blacks' playing style that currently set them apart.

While England won 37-21 at Twickenham over the weekend to extend their winning streak under Jones to 11 matches, South Africa lost their most recent test to the All Blacks 57-15 in this year's Quad Nations series and Strauss says the English still lag behind Steve Hansen's men in the style stakes.

"They are both quality teams," Strauss said. "England do not play high-risk rugby but they execute well. They are clinical and effective in what they do. They play a pressure-type game with those contestable kicks, putting your rucks under pressure and working hard.

Both teams have different styles of playing but they are the best two in the world at the moment."

Strauss agreed that England had suffocated his side. "There was no specific moment but Test rugby is about pressure and we couldn't handle it," he said.

"They got out of their territory well and they tested our defence from the rucks and we weren't up to it. We knew what was coming but they executed very well. England are very effective in what they do, good rucks, good kicking, but we could have defended better."

England halfback Ben Youngs was one of the home team's best performers and said Jones had instilled a belief in the squad that they can take New Zealand's No. 1 world ranking off them.

"Eddie has been brilliant at instilling team belief and also instills a lot of self-belief and today was an example of how much I am enjoying my rugby," Youngs said after the match.

"South Africa are a huge rugby nation and beating them will give this team another layer of confidence. It is another step of building to where we want to get to. That is number one in the world, but to get there we need to control the ball better, have better discipline and want to put teams under more pressure. But there is a lot more to come from us and that is the overriding feeling in the dressing room. We got the result and our campaign under way with a win."

England now face Fiji, Argentina and Australia in their remaining autumn internationals. Wins in all three will take them to 14 victories on the trot, meaning they could even erase the All Blacks' recently set world record of 18 successive test triumphs if they can go through the Six Nations tournament early next year unbeaten.

For South Africa, at least they have a chance to get back on the winning list against Italy in Rome this weekend. Italy has never beaten South Africa and were unimpressive against the All Blacks last weekend.

"We need to get a win, that gives the team belief in the structures and what we are trying to do," Springboks head coach Allister Coetzee said after the loss to England.

"There may be a few changes and hopefully that will bring some energy. We were right in there for 30 minutes today but we paid the price for not doing certain basics right. But there is no lack of effort in training or on the pitch so we have plenty to work with."

- NZ Herald

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