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Rugby Eddie Jones targets 15 England players in Lions squad

The British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand in 2017 should have at least 15 England players, according to coach Eddie Jones.

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England coach Eddie Jones believes at least 15 of his players will be included in the British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand in 2017.

The Lions face a series of warm-up games in June ahead of three Tests against New Zealand, with Jones expecting a strong England presence in Warren Gatland's selection.

Jones has led England to nine wins out of nine since taking over as the team's coach, whitewashing Australia 3-0 and winning the Six Nations, but warned of the dangers of the Lions tour distracting his players.

"I would hope we have at least 15 going to New Zealand," Jones said.

"I would be disappointed if we didn't have that many and consider that I wasn't doing my job well enough if we fell short of that figure.

"The players have to make sure that the tour is not a distraction: they all know that unless they play well for England, they will not be going. If they let themselves become distracted, they are not strong enough."

But Jones played down the chances of his skipper Dylan Hartley being selected to lead the Lions, insisting: "I'll let Warren make that decision."

Despite thumping Australia in their most recent series, Jones believes England can still improve after rising to second in the rankings, behind world champions New Zealand.

"Australia haven't done well since the Tests against us," said Jones, whose side face South Africa in November in their next match.

"That means we have to be circumspect about our performance against them. There were games where our set piece didn't function well and in the first and last our defence was not good.

"Great teams are consistently good. That's what we're lacking at the moment and that's what I'm saying to the coaches.

"New Zealand have a seven out of 10 and a nine out of 10 game. They don't have a five out of 10 game and they very rarely have a 10 out of 10 game. We still have five out of 10 performances and that's not good enough.

"The All Blacks have been able to rebuild their team quickly because of their system. Because they control every one of their franchise teams, they can rebuild faster than anyone else.

"The New Zealand coaches can influence the Super Rugby coaches, something that does not happen in Australia or South Africa. Those countries are going through significant rebuilding and bringing in players is a slow process."

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