Notorious critic praises All Blacks

Ben Smith runs the ball for the All Blacks against Australia. Photo: Getty Images
Ben Smith runs the ball for the All Blacks against Australia. Photo: Getty Images
Serial All Blacks critic Stephen Jones has been forced to join their fan club claiming the world champions have "tilted world rugby on its axis".

Jones has constantly belittled southern hemisphere rugby in general but has done a massive u-turn after Steve Hansen's side crushed the Wallabies in Sydney and Auckland.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Jones reckoned a "supercharged" Beauden Barrett picked off Australia "with his pace, skill and vision on the back of the communal ruthlessness of the team".

He noted "forwards often handling like backs" as the All Blacks did "whatever they pleased" as the game wore on.

"This win had elements of a complete performance and tilted world rugby on its axis," he wrote in the Sunday Times.

"It rather devalued Ireland's fine test series win over Australia, it gave the lie to thoughts that the rest of the game was catching up with New Zealand.

"It also offered the frightening thought that with Barrett and company so dazzling on the counter, to win possession against the All Blacks might be worse for the opposition than not winning it."

"England are in the firing line [on November 11] at Twickenham, in what will be their most important home match in years."

Jones urged the Australian Rugby Union to "hold their nerve" and retain Michael Cheika as coach, believing his record was tainted because the Wallabies had to play the All Blacks so often. Cheika had shown he could lift Australia for the World Cup.

"Few teams can look accomplished with an opponent as devastating as New Zealand," he wrote.

In the Telegraph, Charlie Morgan said Barrett had put on "a display full of electric, well-balanced running".

Morgan added "the most intimidating part [is] New Zealand will integrate Dane Coles, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane back into their side at some point over the remainder of the Rugby Championship."

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