Eddie Jones has hailed New Zealand as "the greatest team there has ever been in sport" but insists England will come up with a plan to win their World Cup semifinal in Yokohama on Saturday.

The England squad are flying to Tokyo on Monday morning to begin preparations for what should be an epic semi-final encounter against the back-to-back world champions, with Jones telling his coaches and players to get ready for "the best week of their lives".

Jones was keen to keep a lid on the hype after England's record victory over Australia, claiming "all we've earned yesterday is another week in the competition. There's nothing to celebrate."

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Yet he is clearly relishing the prospect of going head-to-head against the All Blacks and their head coach Steve Hansen, and despite his respect for his opponents, he believes they are "beatable" notwithstanding their 46-14 rout against Ireland.

"The reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great and that was the challenge and they are starting to believe it," said Jones, who masterminded a semi-final victory over New Zealand at the 2003 World Cup when he was head coach of Australia.

"We have a challenge this week because we are playing the greatest team that has ever been in sport. If you look at their record no other team has that over a sustained period of time. So we are going to have to be better, improving and see what we can get out of this week's preparation.

Eddie Jones at a media conference after England's win over Australia. Photo / Photosport
Eddie Jones at a media conference after England's win over Australia. Photo / Photosport

"New Zealand are a great team with a great coach with a great captain but like any team they are beatable and there are ways to beat them and we will be investigating every possible way of how we beat them this week.

"You always want to play the best and they are the best – no one can dispute that. You want to be the best in the world you have to beat the best. For the players and coaches, this is the best week of their lives and you have to enjoy it and make sure you focus on yourself and work to get better."

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Jones points to New Zealand's win percentage of 86 per cent since winning their second successive World Cup in 2015 as an indication of the size of the challenge that faces England, who lost 16-15 to the All Blacks at Twickenham last November.

"If you look at their record I don't think there's a team that comes close to them for sustainability," Jones added. "Since the last World Cup I think they've won a high percentage of their Tests.

"They are playing in the toughest competition in the world against the best all the time. I just admire them. To do what they do from a small country is incredible.


"It's an example of what you can do. People are raving about Japan at the moment and it's fantastic but you look at what New Zealand have done with four million people."

Jones said the key to victory on Saturday would be to respect New Zealand but not become "part of the show", which he thought had happened to Ireland in the first half of their quarter-final defeat.

"Ireland really got stuck in when the game was lost," Jones added. "Against any of the best teams, you have to go hard from the start. That's going to be important for us."

England players celebrate. Photo / AP
England players celebrate. Photo / AP

All Black head coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, says he won't even think about England until today but prop Joe Moody admitted he had expected Australia to have been more competitive in their quarter-final and had fond memories of big victories for New Zealand in this fixture.

"I am pretty sure England copped a few hidings back in the day when I was growing up," Moody said. "Those are always good memories. Hopefully we can repeat another one of those next week."

The England players will enjoy a second day off today, with the only injury concern the hamstring twinge sustained by Jonny May, who scored two tries on his 50th cap. Jack Nowell, who was unavailable because of a hamstring injury, is expected to be fit having returned to running on Saturday and said by Jones to be "90 to 95 per cent" fit.

"We know with a World Cup semi-final the whole sporting world is looking on," Jones added. "It is a fantastic thing to be involved in and with only four who played in a quarter final so it's a great opportunity for us to something different with this team this week.

"They're a strong team and they're getting stronger all the time. They are believing in each other, they believe in the way they play.

"They're playing to their strengths. I've got a massive admiration for the way they've prepared for this World Cup, because we've worked hard and they know that's what counts. Look at the second-half score (against Australia), was it 23-7. That doesn't come from blowing magic dust, it comes from working hard, and that's what they've got. They work hard for each other.

"I've had a lot of important weeks. This is the most exciting week. I can't wait to see where our team can go."

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