Revelations that Steve Hansen regularly chats with Eddie Jones offered another side to the pressure-filled world of international rugby coaching.

The pair talk about life in the public eye and bounce ideas off each other about the direction and future of the sport they have coached for decades.

While that bond has continued, if the pair were asked to pick the best composite side before the All Blacks and England square off this weekend at Twickenham, England would be lucky to get a single starter.


Owen Farrell, Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Ben Youngs, Maro Itoje and Dylan Hartley would get nominations but would all struggle to get picked. Even with Joe Moody's injury, Karl Tu'inukuafe would be the loosehead prop against anyone England cared to nominate.

The fascinating part of any discussion about any individual superiority is that England are well in the frame to challenge the All Blacks and upset their plans for a winning run this month.

As Jones and Hansen know better than most, test rugby success is built on combinations, minimal error rates and team ethos rather than individual brilliance.

England have that special class with Farrell, May and Itoje while Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane and Brodie Retallick are exceptional players who dominate those roles for the All Blacks and receive global recognition for their feats.

The jury may be out on the All Blacks idea of picking Damian McKenzie with a roving commission as fullback and alternate receiver to Barrett when the side looks to raise the attacking tempo from phase-play but England's Elliot Daly is learning how to balance his test rugby deal too.

Sonny Bill Williams is searching for a better vein of form and Jack Goodhue still wears his L-plates but the All Blacks have less concerns about their form than England have with Ben Te'o and Henry Slade.

While England have more playing numbers than New Zealand, they have lost a layer of class to injury, suspension and retirement, men like the Vunipola brothers, Nathan Hughes, Joe Launchbury, Joe Marler and Chris Robshaw in their forwards and Marland Yarde and Jonathan Joseph in the backs. The All Blacks have a depth of talent which England struggles to match.

If this test was being played in New Zealand, opinion about the result would lean strongly towards the All Blacks.


However this match is being played at Twickenham where the home side will rise to the challenge. They know the vagaries of conditions at the stadium, they have the deadly goal-kicking from Farrell and a resilience which got them over the line a week ago against the Springboks.

It was a huge struggle and only a single point win but it was a victory against a side which has taken down the All Blacks this season.

England play a different type of game, with a more deliberate tempo as they look to set-piece possession, ruck and territory control to create layers of pressure to strangle their rivals and build points. It may not be pretty but if they are on point and conditions help, it is mighty effective.

Conversations between Hansen and Jones after this test will be up close rather than on the blower. Unless there is an impasse at Twickers, one will have an extra warmth to his handshake but it won't be long before both are talking about ways they hope to unhinge Ireland in the run to the next World Cup.