Eddie Jones expects Lions tour will aid his England plans to cut down All Blacks
Eddie Jones believes England will profit from the familiarity of New Zealand gained by their players during next summer's British and Irish Lions tour as they seek to close the gap on the world champions.
The Lions face a brutal 10-fixture itinerary culminating in a three-Test series against the All Blacks, who have not lost a game on home soil since 2009 and are storming through the current Rugby Championship.
A Grand Slam and 3-0 series whitewash of Australia have lifted England to second in the global rankings, but due to a quirk of the international schedule they are unable to measure themselves against New Zealand until 2018.
Instead, Jones hopes the Lions will take a host of his players on tour knowing that the experience accumulated will benefit the Red Rose.
"Familiarity is important - knowing who you're playing against in terms of what they're good at, what they're not good at, where they're mentally weak, where you can get at them and how you can expose them," Jones said.
"Playing against New Zealand's players is a massive advantage because you need to know your opposition and you need to know your foe.
"We'd be hopeful that we'd get at least 15 players and a couple of coaches on that tour and that they get to see every part of New Zealand.
"From Invercargill up to the Bay of Islands, the plush carpets in the South Island, the hot baths in Rotorua - they'll get to see everything.
"They'll get to understand the Maori side step, the Samoan side step, the Fijian side step, Tongan side step... they'll get it all."
New Zealand have routed Australia and Argentina in their three Rugby Championship games, barely noticing the retirement of greats such as Richie McCaw and Dan Carter after last autumn's World Cup.
Despite their ominous form, Jones is convinced they are vulnerable and calculates the gap between them and England is three per cent.
"They're good, they're bloody good, but they are beatable. Like every team, they are beatable," Jones said.
"You don't have to play like them, you've got to capitalise on their weaknesses. And they've got significant weaknesses.
"The gap is three per cent. The differences between teams is never that great. I always remember my first year coaching professionally at the Brumbies.
"They came second the year before and I coached them and they came 10th. I thought that I wasn't doing a very good job, I'm sure lot of people thought that too.
"I went through the meaningful stats and the differences between us in 10th and the top-four teams was three per cent. That's always stayed with me.
"People say it's 15 to 20 per cent, but it's not because there are only small differences."
Jones believes New Zealand have a vice-like grip on the global game.
"They control the world. They control every bit of rugby and every law that's changed they drive it. They control rugby in so many different countries," Jones said.
"They are a smart country. They develop their coaches in New Zealand and then they go overseas and coach in the northern hemisphere, so they get a rounded education.
"They go back to New Zealand and then they are ready to coach the All Blacks. Steve Hansen and Graham Henry both had stints in Wales which rounded off their coaching experience.
"There's no coincidence in the fact that New Zealand have become a better all-round team. Now their set-piece is second to none.
"It's because Hansen and Henry have had experience coaching in the northern hemisphere, taken the good parts of the game up here, the expertise in the set piece and taken it home."
:: Mitsubishi Motors are the Official Performance Partner to England Rugby and have introduced England Rugby head coach, Eddie Jones as a brand ambassador. Both partnerships will build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup and will support the game from grassroots level up to the elite squad.