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England facing All Black threat.

Legendary All Blacks forward Michael Jones believes that England's bid for World Cup glory will be scuppered by New Zealand.

Clive Woodward and his Six Nations champions arrived in Australia last night, where they were greeted by a small, but enthusiastic, group of fans at Perth International Airport.

England, currently ranked as world rugby's top team, are expected to feature prominently during the tournament's business end in Sydney next month.

If the form book holds true, then England and New Zealand will face a final showdown on November 22.

But Jones, assistant coach with one of England's Pool C opponents Samoa, is backing the All Blacks to come up trumps.

"My belief is that New Zealand has the team to go all the way," he said.

"They are getting better and better, and have timed things well in terms of this tournament.

"England are deservedly number one team in the world, but I just have this feeling that the All Blacks have got what it takes."

Among the supporters awaiting England was 10-year-old Oliver Hoskins, who lives in Perth but whose family are from Sussex, kitted out in a Richard the Lionheart costume made by his mother, Jennifer.

Predictably, England captain Martin Johnson, talisman number eight Lawrence Dallaglio and fly-half star Jonny Wilkinson received most attention, but all the players were happy to stop and sign autographs.

There was even a lively rendition of England's Swing Low Sweet Chariot rugby anthem, launched in reply to Waltzing Matilda from some track-suited Australian followers.

The 30-man England squad and back-up staff boarded waiting coaches for their 20-minute journey into central Perth, and were to head for an arrival news conference later today.

Woodward, meanwhile, has repeated his view that host nation and defending champions Australia will be the team to beat.

"We are looking forward to the tournament," he said. "Whoever wins the World Cup has got to beat Australia - they have won it twice, know how to win it, and hold the World Cup."

England's first match in Pool C is against minnows and tournament new boys Georgia on Sunday week at Perth's Subiaco Oval.

They also face South Africa in Perth, then travel to Melbourne for an October 26 appointment with Samoa and finally Uruguay in Brisbane the following weekend.

Their probable quarter-final opponents are Wales in Brisbane on November 9.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2003
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