New Zealand coach Steve Hansen insists his praise of England was genuine in response to being compared to fairytale predator the Big Bad Wolf by Eddie Jones.
Hansen congratulated Jones and his players after they retained their Six Nations title with a 61-21 rout of Scotland, equalling the All Blacks’ record winning sequence of 18 successive Tests in the process.
Jones was wary of the approval, however, likening it to Little Red Riding Hood being deceived by the wolf.
But Hansen told Radio Sport NZ: “Eddie is obviously not used to getting compliments so he’s got to try and brush it off, I suppose.
“It’s not about playing the game, in this case I and the team genuinely believe they should be complimented.
“They’ve done a tremendous job, they’ve equalled the record and could go on and break it this weekend.
“Sport is about paying due when it’s due. They’ve done a good job and well done.
“For a long time England have been the quiet underachiever but now they’ve stepped up and said ‘we want to be part of the big boys’, and what they’re doing is putting together a record that should be commended.
“It doesn’t come easy, doing that. A lot of hard work goes in. We shouldn’t find it hard to say ‘well done’.
“If you can be gracious whilst you’re winning, you’ve got to be gracious when someone else is winning as well. That’s a big part of sport.”
However, Hansen appeared to be making mischief when suggesting he was unaware that the sport’s top two teams are due to meet in a mouth-watering showdown in November 2018.
The Rugby Football Union has confirmed the teams will clash in the autumn series at Twickenham next year in a match that has generated reports of a behind-the-scenes dispute over money.
“I don’t care when we play, but we’re not scheduled to play them, so if we are going to play them we’re going to have to find a way to do that, and give us half their stadium or something. That would be good,” Hansen said.