British and Irish Lions: We'll learn from tour says Eddie Jones
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 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 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 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.
"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," he said.