As soon as we heard that Eddie Jones wanted to speak five days before the New Zealand game, we knew fireworks were coming. And England's coach came with a flame, setting off a spying row and declaring that "pressure is chasing them [the All Blacks] down the street."
This was a bravura performance by Jones, who is looking for edges against the world champions in Saturday's semi-final. The tactic of claiming all the pressure is on the opposition is straight from chapter one of the coaching mind games manual. But rarely is it backed up with so much mischief and wit. The one downside might be that Steve Hansen's men chortle at the level of provocation rather than writhe at night with visions of how much "pressure" is on them.
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New Zealand's media will certainly not be laughing. Asked by a Kiwi reporter what Hansen would make of his remarks, Jones said: "Well someone has to ask them a question because the New Zealand media doesn't – you guys are just fans with a keyboard. Someone has to ask them some questions. The English media – a week ago I was going to get sacked, we couldn't play. We deal with a completely different situation."
World Cup winners in 2011 and 2015, the All Blacks are familiar with the burden of favouritism. They have not lost a World Cup match since October 2007. It will not come as news to them that England are expected to go out in Yokohama this weekend. Jones' propaganda, though, has dual intent. It sends a message to his own players that they can enjoy the role of underdogs at this stressful stage. Jones knows that trick well from his time in charge of Japan at the last World Cup.
The organisers of this tournament will rejoice to see so much spice sprinkled across Saturday's game. "We don't have any pressure, mate. Put up your hand if you think we can win," Jones said. He gave us about three seconds to respond. "There you go - so, no one. No one thinks we can win.
"There are 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. So there's no pressure on us, we've just got to have a great week, enjoy it, relax. Train hard and enjoy this great opportunity we've got, whereas they've got to be thinking about how they're looking for their third World Cup and so that brings some pressure."
In their hotel near Tokyo's Disneyland, where they share a base with excited toddlers, Jones said New Zealand were "shooting for a three-peat [of world titles.]" The venue might explain the Americanism. England are noticeably more relaxed than in the build-up to the quarter-final against Australia, when Jones knew defeat would render his four years in charge a failure. "Someone wrote there'd be blood on the walls of Twickenham," he said.
His aims, in no particular order, were to rebuke the English media for alarmism, berate New Zealand's press for toadying, load the heat on to New Zealand, relax his own players and accuse persons unknown of skullduggery from an apartment block overlooking England's training ground. Not a bad day's work.
Jones even found room in his answers for an imperial dimension, on the day Japan's new Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne. He said: "It's a change in the history of Japan. Now we're going to have a change in the history of the World Cup. It's nice symmetry, and I do believe in omens."