Maro Itoje insists the England camp was calm leading into the stunning Rugby World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand - because Eddie Jones' men are always confident.

England dominated the All Blacks for an outstanding 19-7 victory on Saturday, handing the two-time defending champions their first World Cup defeat since 2007.

Itoje and his team-mates are now heading to the final, with England reaching the trophy match for the first time in 12 years.

The downing of New Zealand was widely considered an upset, yet in-form lock Itoje suggested England always fancied their chances, illustrating a self-belief that will serve them well heading into the final.

"We've always had belief within our squad," Itoje said. "We have the players, we have some brilliant characters in our squad, our coaches, they've done a phenomenal job so far.

"So belief has never been a problem for us.

"It was quite calm [before New Zealand], to be honest. I don't know how it was perceived from the outside.

"But we always believed that we are capable of something like we demonstrated on the pitch. It doesn't come as a big shock for us."

Itoje assessed the victory as "pretty cool" and is now relishing the prospect of a week-long build-up to the game of his life.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool. I'm very, very happy with the performance from the team," he said.

"There's obviously some things we could have done better, but we did a good job in staying engaged.

"We're really excited. These are the weeks that you want to be a part of as a player. And I'm very honoured and humbled to be a part of what will be a great week."

Siya Kolisi thinks a defeat to New Zealand has worked in South Africa's favour in their pursuit of Rugby World Cup glory in Japan.

The Springboks were beaten by the All Blacks in their first game of the tournament but have responded by winning four in a row to reach the semi-finals.

South Africa will face Wales in Yokohama on Sunday for the right to play England - conquerors of New Zealand - in the final next Saturday.

Captain Kolisi says a 23-13 loss to the two-time defending champions five weeks ago has made South Africa accustomed to playing in must-win games.

"We lost the first game so we have been under pressure since then," said the flanker.

"We have been playing knockout rugby from the beginning but being here for so long has helped us.

"We've got used to the environment, we've adapted quickly and got to know what works for you and what doesn't work for you while you're here. And we have been improving as a team.

"I think our team spirit and understanding of one another as a team and knowing what makes each other tick has been really huge for us."

Kolisi knows what to expect from Wales but says South Africa are confident they can come through the second semi-final if they play to their strengths.

"We know we're facing a tough opposition but all we can do is focus on what we do best and what got us here," said Kolisi.

"We're very excited as a team. We've worked hard this week. We have prepped as much as we can and given them the respect they deserve. Bu the most important thing is that we're effective at what we do – that's our focus."

 

Steve Hansen accepted New Zealand were beaten by a better team in their Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to England, but the All Blacks coach reacted angrily to the attitude of his side being called into question.

Hansen was full of praise for England, who reached the final with a richly deserved 19-7 triumph in Yokohama that ended New Zealand's hopes of winning a third successive World Cup.

However, the departing All Blacks chief took exception to a follow-up question after revealing he had urged his players to "get hungry and desperate before it was too late" with New Zealand trailing 10-0 at half-time.

That comment prompted a reporter to ask skipper Kieran Read whether the team had "turned up with the right attitude".

After Read responded, a stern-faced Hansen said: "I'd just like to clear that up because I think it's quite a disrespectful question, to suggest the All Blacks turned up not being hungry. They're desperate to win the game.

"Because I've asked them at half-time to get hungrier, it doesn't mean to say they didn't turn up to be hungry. There's a big difference and if you want to spend some time outside I'll give you a rugby education on that one.

"To turn up and say an All Black team comes to a semi-final of the Rugby World Cup, with the amount of ability and history it's had behind it, to say it's not hungry, that's a pretty average question, I reckon."

Read said: "You've seen how hard we worked out there. Definitely the boys really wanted it. The detail of the match probably didn't go our way, but our work rate and how much we really wanted it was there.

"The guys absolutely turned up with as much as we could bring and we fell short. It's a hard thing to sit here and try and tell you exactly why it is, but we were short today, we're hurting because of it and we'll move on."

England's magnificent display drew plaudits from Hansen but the veteran coach also talked up his own players.

"We've got no regrets, I'm very proud of the All Blacks," Hansen added. "I think this tournament they've played particularly well and tonight we just got beaten by the better side. Sometimes you might find that sport's not fair, but tonight it was. We got beaten by the better side, so congratulations to them.

"We played as well as we possibly could, we just got beaten by a better team and we have to take that on the chin.

"If you don't achieve what you want to do, you have to put your big boy pants on and stand up and be counted. It doesn't stop you from hurting, it just means you've just got to accept what's been chucked at you. Sometimes sport does that to you.

"They're a good team, so there's no shame in getting beaten by them. There's a lot of hurt in it and that adversity will feed a lot more All Black teams in the future so we'll find one positive out of it."

Eddie Jones said England will have to take their game to another level in the Rugby World Cup final after dethroning "god of rugby" New Zealand.

England ended a seven-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks and beat them for the first time in a World Cup match with a dominant performance in Yokohama on Saturday.

Manu Tuilagi's try inside two minutes set the tone and George Ford kicked 12 points as England set up a showdown with South Africa or Wales at the same venue next Saturday with a 19-7 triumph.

Sam Underhill and Ben Youngs had scores disallowed in a relentless display from the Red Rose, who denied New Zealand an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup triumph and replaced them at the top of the rankings.

England head coach Jones says his side must raise their standards even higher if they are to get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup next weekend. 

"New Zealand are the god of rugby, so we had to take it to them. We wanted to show that we could take the game to them, try to put them on the back foot as much as we could," said the Australian.

Asked where the performance ranked among England's best of all time, he said: "It gives us another week. We are here for another week so we're looking forward to it. We're not historians, so we don't know.

"But we know that we can play better next week and we're going to have to play better, whoever we play against.

"We are looking forward to Wales and South Africa play a 3-3 draw, so they have to play extra time and it's still 3-3 and they have to play more extra time. That's the prediction."

Jones is backing England to win a second World Cup four years after they suffered the humiliation of failing to progress from their pool on home soil.

"We've got the right focus. I can remember the meeting at Pennyhill Park, our first meeting together. We wanted to be the best team in the world and we're not the best team in the world," he said.

"We've an opportunity to play in a game where we can prove we are and that's the only thing we are concerned with."

If you are going to face down an All Black Haka in a V formation prior to a Rugby World Cup semi-final, with your captain wearing a confident grin, you had better deliver a performance to back up your actions.

It is safe to say England did just that in Yokohama on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' men will return to the same venue for the World Cup final in seven days after producing one of their finest displays to beat the mighty New Zealand 19-7.

Their job is not yet done, but this contest will live long in the memory.

With the exception of one horrendous line-out throw from Jamie George, which gifted Ardie Savea a second-half try, England barely put a foot wrong against the two-time defending world champions, who had not lost in 18 World Cup matches dating back to a 2007 quarter-final against France.

And you can forget Jones' pre-match comments suggesting his side were under no pressure. That is simply not possible in games of this magnitude.

England never play without expectation in any case and, while New Zealand were clearly the favourites, Jones will have known his players had to come up with a display befitting of such a huge occasion. It is to their immense credit that they served up just about the most complete 80 minutes imaginable.

The build-up to the game had been intense and it certainly felt like something special was in prospect as England faced down their opponents' Haka, Owen Farrell smiling as they did so.

"We wanted to not just stand there and let them come at us," said Farrell in a post-match news conference. "We wanted to keep a respectful distance and be respectful to that but we didn't want to just stand in a flat line letting them come at us."

In the only previous knockout clash between these sides at a World Cup, back in 1995, Jonah Lomu had laid waste to the men in white, scoring four tries in the most iconic individual display in the tournament's history.

Yet on this occasion, it was England's pace and power that proved decisive, the likes of Maro Itoje, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry particularly outstanding as Jones' men dominated at the breakdown for a second match in succession.

In England's quarter-final trouncing of Australia, Curry and Underhill comprehensively outplayed the celebrated back-row pairing of David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

Player of the Match Itoje and Courtney Lawes were able to win a similarly key battle on Saturday as they got the better of fellow locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, a man who had never lost a World Cup game until now.

England's forwards were not the only heroes, though. George Ford - seemingly the calmest man on the field - excelled at fly-half having been restored to the starting line-up and successfully took over kicking duties after a first-half knock for Farrell, while Anthony Watson shone on the right wing.

"We just couldn't get into the game," said All Blacks skipper Kieran Read. Not only were New Zealand beaten, they could have absolutely no complaints about the result.

Earlier this week, Jones outlined how special it would be to beat Steve Hansen's men, stating: "When you've been involved in rugby the country you want to knock off is New Zealand, because they've been the best. And the reason you're involved in this game is you want to be the best."

One more win and England can claim to be just that. Either way, this was a performance that will go down in history as one of their very best.

England coach Eddie Jones has hailed his side's defence as their best form of attack after a 19-7 victory over New Zealand ensured their place in the Rugby World Cup final.

Manu Tuilagi's early try paved the way for an exceptional display from England in Yokohama on Saturday, as they ended the All Blacks' chances of winning an unprecedented third World Cup in a row.

Captain Owen Farrell added the extras to Tuilagi's score, with George Ford putting England 10-0 up at half-time and, although New Zealand rallied through Ardie Savea's try, Ford's pinpoint kicking ensured victory.

England will now face either Wales or South Africa in their first World Cup final appearance since 2007 and Jones singled out his side's defensive grit as the key factor in their triumph.

"We're playing a great team, Steve Hansen, a great coach, Kieran Reed's a great captain. We had to dig deep," Jones said.

"We knew we'd have to come off the line and we managed to do that. We caused a few errors, may have had a few lucky bounces and got the result.

"The World Cup is always about defence and our best form of attack is our defence. We create opportunities through our defence to attack.

"Greatest compliments to New Zealand, they've won two World Cups in a row, they're a great team and we really had to dig deep to beat them."

Jones also highlighted the work of his assistants Steve Borthwick and Neal Hatley after England's pack put in a disciplined display.

"If you try to play New Zealand at their game you're going to come off second best," Jones, who is unconcerned by any "favourites" tag ahead of the final, told ITV Sport.

"We probably missed a couple of opportunities to score but I thought the discipline of our performance was great in both attack and defence.

"[The pack] played really well. Steve and Neal do a fantastic job with those forwards, really disciplined.

"We don't bet, we don't look at the bookies, so we're not really concerned [about favourites]. Our expectation is the most important thing."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, conceded England were worthy winners, although he insisted the defeat takes nothing away from his side's achievements.

"I'd like to congratulate England, they played a tremendous game of footy and, on the day, they deserved to win the game," he said.

"You can't give them half a step because they'll take it and that's what rugby is about. Well done to them.

"I'm really proud of our team, they've done tremendous graft for our country and we just weren't good enough. We have to take it on the chin, so does everybody back home and our fans."

Manu Tuilagi's early try set the tone as England shattered New Zealand's hopes of winning an unprecedented third consecutive Rugby World Cup and moved into the final with a famous 19-7 victory.

England dominated the out-of-sorts All Blacks at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday to set up a showdown with South Africa or Wales at the same venue next weekend.

Tuilagi touched down for a try that Owen Farrell converted inside two minutes and George Ford's penalty just before the break put Eddie Jones' inspired side 10-0 up at half-time.

The defending champions never really got going in an error-strewn display and although Ardie Savea's try gave them hope, another three penalties from the excellent Ford kept England in command.

England – who also had tries from Sam Underhill and Ben Youngs ruled out – were lively in attack and outstanding in defence, sealing a first win over New Zealand for seven years and a maiden World Cup triumph over the holders to replace them at the top of the rankings.

New Zealand's first World Cup loss since 2007 ensured there will be no dream swansong for head coach Steve Hansen, while captain Kieran Read will end his stellar Test career with a third-place play-off.

Warren Gatland wants the doubters to keep writing off Wales ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final battle with South Africa on Sunday.

The Six Nations champions are underdogs for the last-four showdown in Yokohama City, where they will be striving to reach the final for the first time.

Wales left it late to beat 14-man France at the quarter-final stage last weekend and must do without full-back Liam Williams (ankle) and flanker Josh Navidi (hamstring) against the Springboks.

Centre Jonathan Davies has been passed fit after a knee problem, though, and head coach Gatland is optimistic his side can defy the odds to earn a shot at the Webb Ellis Cup.

"The nice thing about being out here is that you are kind of in a bubble and you are not seeing a lot of the stuff externally." Gatland said.

Even though Wales have got the better of the Boks more often than not in recent years, Gatland is not blind to the fact there are some who dismiss his team's chances of going any further in this tournament.

"If they continue to do that over the next couple of days that would be brilliant. Please continue to do that as it does get us up when people write us off," Gatland said.

"I can't understand why people would write us off when our record against South Africa has been pretty good in the last four or five years. That speaks for itself.

"Going into Sunday’s game it is going to be a tight game and we saw that the first half in South Africa v Japan was a tight game. It will probably be a kicking fest, they kicked 30 times against Japan so we just have got to handle their game.

"It won't be the prettiest game in the world, it will be a tight Test match with probably teams playing for territory depending on what the weather is like."

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who replaced wing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle) with Sbu Nkosi, is well aware of the threat Wales will pose but says the Rugby Championship holders are ready to send them packing.

"Wales are the reigning Six Nations champions and apart from three defeats in their Rugby World Cup warm-ups, they have put together a really good sequence of results. But we've also found some rhythm and we’ll be ready for the challenge." said Erasmus.

"We have been working hard for 18 months to put ourselves in a position to win the Rugby World Cup and that opportunity is now just 80 minutes away. These players have worked with unbelievable energy to get Springbok rugby back into this position and I know they will leave nothing out on the field on Sunday."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Leigh Halfpenny

Halfpenny has started only one game in the tournament, against Uruguay, and played barely 20 minutes in his other appearance off the bench in the hammering of Georgia. The full-back will be tested under the high ball on Sunday, and Wales will need the 30-year-old to draw on all of his vast experience and skill in an unexpected start as he replaces the injured Williams.

 

South Africa – Faf de Klerk

De Klerk was named man of the match for a typically influential quarter-final performance against Japan. The scrum-half was a bundle of energy in defence and attack, and the Wales forwards must try to prevent the pivot from getting quick ball.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Wales have won five of their last six Tests against South Africa, coming out on top in the last four.

- South Africa have won both World Cup matches against Wales, beating them 17-16 in the 2011 pool stages and 23-19 in the 2015 quarter-finals.

- The Springboks have conceded just three tries in their five matches, two of which came in the defeat to New Zealand in their opening pool stage game.

- Dan Biggar needs 14 points to become the first Wales player to score 100 Rugby World Cup points.

- South Africa have scored more tries (30) and points (211) than any other side in the tournament.

Ian Foster says set-pieces are "where the war's going to be won or lost" when New Zealand and England lock horns in the first Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The All Blacks and Eddie Jones' side do battle at International Stadium Yokohama for the right to play South Africa or Wales in the final.

Steve Hansen sprung a surprise by picking Scott Barrett ahead of Sam Cane at blindside flanker in what would appear to be an effort to target the England lineout.

New Zealand assistant coach Foster said the team that gain the edge in lineouts and scrums will have a great chance of progressing.

"The quality of your set-piece is key. And rugby hasn't changed over all the years, with all the different things that have happened to it," said Foster.

"There's a simplicity about it. If you scrum well and line-out well, you've got a good chance."

He added: "It's a tactical battle in itself. That's where the war's going to be won or lost."

Prop Joe Moody is relishing a titanic tussle with a powerful England pack.

"There is a big English forward pack. We know they are going to be pretty direct... we're going to have to be up for it to match fire with fire," he said.

"Should be a big old ding-dong battle."

Courtney Lawes says New Zealand will know exactly who they are up against in the Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday after the England lock was mistakenly named as a politician by Brodie Retallick five years ago.

Retallick irked the England camp in 2014 when he replied "Michael Laws" after being asked if he could name any members of Stuart Lancaster's squad.

All Blacks lock Retallick was not impressed when he was reminded of that slip of the tongue this week as the world champions and England prepare to do battle in Yokohama for a place in the final.

England forward Lawes expects New Zealand to be more familiar with their opponents this weekend.

"If they don't know, then they will tomorrow, it's just one of those things mate!" Lawes said on Friday.

"We will just get on with it."

Lawes says Eddie Jones' men are relishing the challenge of trying to prevent the holders from becoming the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup three times in a row.

"We're excited," said Lawes. "None of us have played in a semi-final before, it's a challenge but we're very excited to get out there."

He added: "I like to take every game like it is, which is a rugby game, and go out there and enjoy.

"Obviously it's a massive occasion and we want to win, we have to win. But I like to go out there and treat every game like it's your last game."

Liam Williams' injury-enforced absence from the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa is "a big loss" for Wales, but Warren Gatland does not think his team is any weaker.

An ankle injury sustained in an accidental collision during training ruled Williams out for the remainder of the tournament in Japan, with Leigh Halfpenny taking his place in the XV for Sunday's match in Yokohama.

However, Gatland stated Halfpenny had been close to earning a starting spot regardless and believes his experience will be an important boost for Wales.

"[Williams] is undoubtedly a big loss from an attacking perspective and what he has achieved in the game in the last year or so," said Gatland.

"But bringing in the experience of someone like Leigh Halfpenny gives us a different element.

"He is defensively probably the best full-back in the world in terms of his aerial game and coverage defensively.

"We had a long debate about whether we started Leigh in the first place and potentially move Liam to the wing.

"There was a long discussion about that so Leigh was probably unlucky he was not in the team in the first place.

"We are disappointed for a world-class player like Liam but we are happy bringing in someone with the experience of Leigh.

"It is a change but we don't think that we are weakening the side in any way with the changes we have made."

Jonathan Davies will start at centre after overcoming a knee injury and Gatland is pleased to have him available for the first time since the pool stage win over Fiji.

"We hope he is fit. He has come through training this week," said Gatland. "He was very close last week and he made a decision last week to rule himself out for the betterment of the team.

"Hopefully we can get through the rain today with the training and it won't affect us too much.

"We will have a shorter session this afternoon and we are excited where we are at the moment."

South Africa were dealt an injury blow of their own with livewire wing Cheslin Kolbe missing out after aggravating an ankle injury in the quarter-final success over Tokyo.

"Obviously he is a big loss to them with his ability to score tries and his footwork," Gatland said of Kolbe, for whom Sbu Nkosi will deputise.

"We were probably going to target him aerially anyway. You talk about their kicking game, I think our kicking game has to be good as well. They definitely have a bit of pace in the back three.

"At this stage of the tournament, you are always going to lose a couple of quality players, and in them losing Kolbe and us losing Liam Williams, it's probably one each in terms of that."

South Africa stand in the way of Wales and a first Rugby World Cup final appearance when they do battle in Yokohama on Sunday.

Wales have twice suffered the agony of a semi-final defeat, losing to New Zealand in 1987 and France in 2011.

South Africa won both of their previous World Cup encounters with Wales and have looked ominous in Japan as they attempt to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time. 

We pick out some Key Opta facts ahead of the second semi-final as the Six Nations champions and Rugby Championship winners eye a showdown with England or the All Blacks.

 

5 - Wales have won five of their last six Tests against South Africa, coming out on top in the last four meetings.

3 - South Africa have conceded just three tries in five games during the tournament - two of which came in their defeat to New Zealand.

12 - Wales have conceded more tries (12) in the World Cup than their previous two campaigns combined (10).

30 - The Springboks have scored more tries (30) and points (211) than any other side in the tournament.

86 - Dan Biggar needs 14 points to become the first Wales player to score 100 World Cup points. Neil Jenkins leads the way with 98 and Stephen Jones notched 95.

32 - South Africa have won 32 of 34 World Cup games in which they have led at half-time.

England and New Zealand face off in a mouth-watering Rugby World Cup semi-final as Eddie Jones' men look to somehow topple the two-time defending champions. 

The All Blacks are aiming to become the first side to win three successive World Cups, but England represent a huge obstacle in their road to history.

For England to defy the odds and reach the final for the first time since 2007, they will need to end a New Zealand winning streak stretching back to that tournament 12 years ago.

Here we take a statistical look at Saturday's mammoth last-four clash in Yokohama.

15 - New Zealand have won 15 of their last 16 matches against England - the exception in that run being a 21-38 defeat at Twickenham in 2012, a game in which Manu Tuilagi and Kieran Read both scored tries.

4 - This will be the fourth Rugby World Cup clash between England and New Zealand. The All Blacks have won each of the previous three (1991, 1995, 1999), including their only knockout encounter which came in the semi-finals of the 1995 tournament in South Africa.

3 - England have won three of their previous four World Cup semi-final matches - the 29-45 loss to New Zealand in 1995 is the exception.

18 - New Zealand have won their past 18 World Cup matches, the longest such run in the tournament's history, last losing a game in the quarter-finals of the 2007 edition against France. Sam Whitelock has played in all 18 of those games and as such holds the individual record for most consecutive wins in World Cup history.

30 - The All Blacks have averaged the most points (51), tries (7.3), metres (642), clean breaks (22), defenders beaten (39) and offloads (17) of any side at the 2019 World Cup. They are also one of four sides yet to lose a scrum on their own feed (30/30).

- Neither England nor New Zealand have conceded a first half try in this tournament so far, the only sides to manage this; both have conceded three tries in the second half.

13 - Owen Farrell (87) needs 13 points to become the second player to reach 100 World Cup points for England after Jonny Wilkinson (277). He has managed that haul in four of his past five starts for England and averages 11.4 points per game in eight previous appearances against New Zealand (including with the British and Irish Lions).

1 - Jonny May needs one try to equal Jason Robinson on 28 tries for England, the joint fifth most for the country. It will be May's 51st match; Robinson won 51 caps for England.

- Maro Itoje has won more turnovers (seven) than any other player at the 2019 World Cup. Ardie Savea (five) is New Zealand's leading exponent in this facet of the game and has indeed won the joint most jackal turnovers of any player (five).

Warren Gatland had mixed news on the injury front as he named the Wales team for their Rugby World Cup semi-final, welcoming back Jonathan Davies but forced to do without Liam Williams.

Wales face South Africa in Yokohama on Sunday looking to reach the World Cup final for the first time.

Davies is back in Gatland's XV after missing the narrow last-eight victory over France with a recurrence of an earlier knee injury.

However, Williams is out of this clash and the remainder of the tournament due to a training-ground injury.

Wales reported Williams had suffered the blow to his ankle in an accidental collision and a prognosis was still to be established.

That blow sees Leigh Halfpenny come into the side at full-back, joining Josh Adams and George North in the back three.

Wales had already lost Josh Navidi to a torn hamstring against France, meaning Ross Moriarty's inclusion is the third and final change to the side.

Gatland's men will be led by Alun Wyn Jones, who is earning his 142nd Test cap - including nine for the British and Irish Lions.

He moves to joint-second on the all-time worldwide list, tied with Italy's Sergio Parisse behind former All Black Richie McCaw (148).

Gareth Davies gets his 50th cap.


Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Steve Hansen wants to ensure New Zealand do not repeat past mistakes by getting caught up in the "euphoria" of a quarter-final triumph when they battle England for a place in the Rugby World Cup showpiece.

Two-time defending champions the All Blacks are the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup once again but must overcome Eddie Jones' side in Yokohama on Saturday to keep their hopes of doing so alive.

New Zealand produced a commanding display to brush aside Ireland, who started the tournament in Japan as the top-ranked side in the world, 46-14 in the last eight.

But Hansen warned against looking beyond a blockbuster semi-final with England, something he feels they have been guilty of in the past.

"Sometimes I think people come off the euphoria of winning the quarter-final, and then they start looking ahead at the final," said Hansen.

"I think that could have been a mistake that we've made in the past. I think we may have even done it in 2007, looking beyond the quarter-final. And when you start looking beyond where you're actually at, then your mind's not where your feet are, and you're vulnerable.

"I think that's probably why they would say it's tough, because you've just come off the euphoria of winning the quarter-final knowing you now have an opportunity, and then you may start looking at that opportunity before you've actually earned the right to look at it."

Jones on Thursday moved away from his apparent attempts at kidology earlier this week, having claimed someone had spied on England training without accusing the All Blacks, of whom he said "the pressure will be chasing them down the street".

England have lost each of their past six Tests against New Zealand and the head coach is relishing the chance to put that right.

"It's going to be a great contest, isn't it? Two heavyweights, one dressed in black, one dressed in white. You couldn't think of a better scenario," said Jones.

"I think it's a great week, it's one of the most exciting weeks in world rugby.

"You get a press conference [with this many people] usually only when you've done something bad.

"We haven't done anything bad yet, so it's an exceptional week for us."

Kieran Read and Jonny May overcame injury concerns to feature in the starting XV for New Zealand and England respectively.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - George Ford

Having been dropped to the bench for the quarter-final success over Australia, Ford will want to prove himself after returning to the starting XV as the only change. Jones highlighted the fly-half's impressive work-rate and he will want to deliver on that after replacing captain Owen Farrell, who will start at outside centre, in the number 10 shirt.

New Zealand - Scott Barrett

Hansen too only made one alteration to his line-up, with lock Barrett replacing Sam Cane in the back row. Barrett has never started an All Blacks game at flanker so it will be interesting to see if the coach's tactical decision pays dividends.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the fourth World Cup clash between England and New Zealand. The All Blacks have won each of the previous three (1991, 1995, 1999) including their only knockout encounter, which came in the semi-finals of the 1995 tournament in South Africa.
- England had just 10 minutes and 34 seconds of possession in their quarter-final victory against Australia, their lowest amount in a game since Opta have recorded this data (2010).
- The All Blacks have averaged the most points (51), tries (7.3), metres (642), clean breaks (22), defenders beaten (39) and offloads (17) of any side at this World Cup.
- Billy Vunipola is in line to win his 50th cap for England. New Zealand are the one side he has yet to beat in an England shirt (L4), notching up victories against each of the other 11 nations he has faced.

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