20 Oct 2019

Jones: 'I have got a soft spot for New Zealand'

8:41 am on 20 October 2019

England coach Eddie Jones has got his wish, with the English to face the All Blacks for a place in the Rugby World Cup final.

England's head coach Eddie Jones (C) smiles during a warm-up session before the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between England and Australia at the Oita Stadium in Oita on October 19, 2019. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Photo: AFP

New Zealand's booked its place in next Saturday night's semi-final showdown in Yokohama by crushing Ireland 46-14 in Tokyo.

England earlier overcame Australia 40-16 in the first quarter-final in Oita, with Jones going on to say "I have got a soft spot for New Zealand and I would love to play them in a semi-final."

But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says "we won't think about England until tomorrow".

"I don't think tonight is the right time for us to be talking about them," Hansen said.

"We've got a formula... test matches are hard work. So now we are going to step off the merry-go-round and relax. Enjoy our moment because that was a very special test match.

"We will enjoy our moment, the fans and the players."

Kieran Read during the second half of New Zealand v Ireland, Quarter Final, Rugby World Cup 2019 at Tokyo Stadium, Japan. 19th October 2019. Copyright Image: Kenji Demura / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

Hansen has hailed how his team silenced the deafening Irish fans in Tokyo by making a strong start.

The All Blacks led 22-nil at halftime, courtesy of two Aaron Smith tries and one from Beauden Barrett.

"It's no different then when you play in Dublin. If you do things right then you can control the crowd. If you let them in then the crowd becomes part of the problem."

"They started really, really well then people were sitting back in their seats wondering what's going to happen here rather than singing and carrying on."

The coach has also singled out his captain Kieran Read for special praise.

"He's come back from a back injury, copped a lot of flak from people about his form, but as that injury has got better and better so has his play.

"But it's not only that, he's led the team really, really well and I think he's gone to an even higher level at the World Cup.

And Steve Hansen hopes their quarter-final performance consigns the All Blacks' defeats to Ireland in 2016 and 2018 to the history books.

"We got reminded and reminded and reminded and reminded that we'd lost to Ireland. All Black teams don't need to be reminded. It's not something that you go and talk about, just everyone knows it.

"We have a lot of respect for Ireland and we had to spend a lot of time getting our preparation right to play them, because we knew that if we didn't we'd be going home."

- Reuters/RNZ