Can England challenge the All Blacks? We take a look at their chances

Grand Slam champions England have climbed to second in the world rankings after establishing an unassailable 2-0 lead heading into Saturday's final Test against Australia at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.

Coach Eddie Jones' ultimate aim is to snatch New Zealand's crown at the next World Cup in Japan in 2019, but are they good enough to challenge the All Blacks?

(Haruka Takahashi / AP)
A game against the All Blacks would be the ultimate test of England's progression (Haruka Takahashi/AP)

We take a look at their chances.

How good are they?

England rugby player Kyle Sinckler, left, and Billy Vunipola do a resistance band workout during their team training in Sydney, Australia (Rob Griffith/AP)
The team have been training hard )Rob Griffith/AP)

Toppling Australia in Melbourne has lifted them to second in the world rankings and it is a position they deserve, a Grand Slam and series victory in Australia - who they have usurped in the global rankings - identifying them as the main threat to New Zealand.

When will they face the All Blacks?

Sadly, due to a frustrating quirk of the scheduling system, they will not meet the world champions until November 2017 at the earliest.

Having played them four times in 2014 alone and on six occasions in the last four years, they must now wait to test themselves against Steve Hansen's all-conquering world champions.

The autumn fixtures for next year are still in the process of being arranged and it is conceivable that New Zealand's next visit to Twickenham will be as far away as 2018.

So would England win?

he England team sing the national anthem (Andrew Matthews/PA)
England's first series with in Australia has sealed their place at number 2 in the world rankings (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Much can change between now and when they do eventually meet, but given the remarkable rate of improvement engineered by Eddie Jones there is no reason why they could not issue a statement of intent ahead of Japan 2019 by dispatching the All Blacks.

Certain areas will have to be addressed, however.

What areas are those?

England's key issue, as recognised by Jones, is the lack of consistency from game to game - other than the result.

Eddie Jones (Nick Potts/PA)
Eddie Jones is pushing the team to improve (Nick Potts/PA)

In Brisbane they were found wanting defensively, but in attack they scored some fine tries.

Fast forward seven days and their attack was non-existent, yet defensively they were magnificent. And the line-out and scrum are every bit as unpredictable.

Jones has called for England to deliver a complete, 80-minute performance in Sydney on Saturday knowing that if they are to dethrone New Zealand, that is what will be required.

What else will they have to address?

Restarts have been poor in this series and Jones views the ball-carrying of the All Blacks forwards as being on a different level.

As always the breakdown will be key and while England have developed rapidly in this area, seeing off Australian masters David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the process, their decision-making, discipline and intensity will have to improve against New Zealand.

England's Dylan Hartley lifts the RBS 6 Nations Trophy during the 2016 RBS Six Nations(Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Six Nations victors need to up their game to take on the All Blacks (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Grand Slam champions have shown an ability to take their chances under Jones and this must continue if they are to become world champions.

And what will concern the All Blacks?

England's pack now bristles with aggression and is willing to be confrontational in a way that was absent under Stuart Lancaster.

They are niggly and spiteful and New Zealand will know they face a battle up-front.

Maro Itoje is a forward of frightening potential, Dylan Hartley is proving a fine Test captain and Owen Farrell is rapidly becoming the most dead-eyed kicker in the game, so any ill-discipline is certain to be punished.

And as the defensive display in Melbourne has proved, they are team willing to put their bodies on the line for the cause.

Read Full Story