Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones admires England's mentality under pressure
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 09/02/17 10:02am
Alun Wyn Jones has praised England's ability to manage the pressure and expectation that has accompanied their run under Eddie Jones.
The Welsh are next in line to plot England's downfall when they arrive at the Principality Stadium on Saturday for an eagerly-awaited Six Nations showdown.
England have won their last 15 Tests, with 14 of those coming under Australian Jones' direction, including a Six Nations Grand Slam and a historic Test series whitewash in Australia.
It is almost 500 days since they were toppled by anyone - when they were defeated by Australia during the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham - while Wales have not done it on a Six Nations stage since they crushed England's title and Grand Slam hopes in Cardiff four years ago.
Wales skipper Jones, set to make his 16th appearance against England this weekend, said: "What people forget is when you win for that long, the pressure builds with each game and people want to see you toppled.
"But they've managed that very well, and you can see the (playing) depth they are getting - not just at nine and 10, but across the park. That is the biggest bonus they are going to get moving forwards, as Eddie has alluded to."
Wales flanker Sam Warburton this week said it was "a fair judgement" to compare England with current world champions New Zealand, and Jones added: "I don't see why not.
"They are three games away from equalling their (New Zealand's) record (for successive wins), and when you get that close it's fair to make that link, but they have probably been keeping it at arm's length, for obvious reasons."
One of England's major individual successes in 2016 was Saracens lock Maro Itoje.
Jones and the 22-year-old have been tipped in many quarters as the British and Irish Lions' prospective Test second-row pairing in New Zealand later this year, and although Itoje is currently featuring at blindside flanker for England, his impact remains a considerable one.
"He is a stand-out performer for them," Jones added. "His rise has been meteoric when you look at last year and the way he has maintained his form this year.
"He played at six at the weekend (against France) and that just shows the number of strings he has to his bow.
"But if you look at England's second-row, they have such strength in depth, and that competition brings out the best in all of them."
All 10 games of the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand will be shown live on Sky Sports, starting June 3 2017.