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Eddie Jones feeling confident as Ireland look to halt 'big brother' England

Joe Schmidt’s men must worry about their top-four ranking status ahead of the World Cup pool draw.

EDDIE JONES DOESN’T really do shy and retiring, certainly not when he’s at the helm of a team that has won 18 Tests in a row.

The Australian has yet to taste defeat as England head coach, so he can be forgiven for being confident.

England Training Session and Press Conference - Pennyhill Park Eddie Jones was in good form again yesterday. Source: Paul Harding

Perhaps his outspoken nature with the media does not accurately reflect what he’s like behind closed doors, but it certainly seems like this squad of English players have taken on the swagger Jones wants to see from them.

Generally speaking, England have backed up and justified Jones’ words with convincing performances.

So when Jones says England are going to build on last weekend’s 61-21 dismantling of Scotland when they face Ireland in Dublin tomorrow, it should be some cause for concern.

We are going to play better on Saturday,” said Jones after naming his starting team, showing two changes with the introduction of Billy Vunipola and Anthony Watson.

“We are a different team, we’ve showed that, and we are ready to take it to another level on Saturday.

“It will be our intensity to play the game, how quickly we reload in defence, how quickly we reform in attack, how quickly we chase kicks, how quickly we get back to cover kicks, they are the things that will show we’ve got the intensity to go forward or not.”

Jones says this year’s version of England are better than the one that secured the 2016 Grand Slam with largely the same players, the head coach believing that they have become more resilient, more adaptive and more self-reliant.

Danny Care celebrates scoring his second try England ripped Scotland apart last weekend. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The English are ranked number two in the world but the prospect of them facing the All Blacks later this year has raised its head again this week, even without a clash between them currently scheduled.

“I’ve got no view on that, I’m not an administrator,” said Jones when asked whether it is a possibility. “I haven’t negotiated contracts, all I’m worried about is Ireland.

“If the All Blacks want to turn up to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday and want to play us after Ireland, then we’ll consider it.”

Jones has indeed been focusing on Ireland, but he stresses that this game is about England doing their own basics well. Win lineouts, scrums, carry hard, get off the line in defence – Jones believes that if England do those things, they can beat anyone.

They are favourites to wrap up a Grand Slam, but Ireland will be beyond fired-up to spoil the party and salvage some pride on Saturday.

Beyond that, Ireland may have to win to be certain of their top-four place in the World Rugby rankings ahead of the World Cup pool draw in May.

If Wales win in Paris on Saturday and Ireland lose to the English, Rob Howley’s men will rise into fourth.

Joe Schmidt Joe Schmidt needs Ireland to retain their top-four status. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It would be nice for us to keep the ranking at number four because that is part of our long-term goal for us to achieve at the next World Cup,” said Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt yesterday.

“That would immediately help, but you can still get drawn in a real tough pool. It doesn’t assure you of anything, but it does put you in a slightly better position to be drawn in a pool that is a little bit less competitive.

“I’d say any pool is going to be competitive and over the next two years I’d like to think we can keep building and that we can hit the ground running by that comes around.

It’s probably in that order because the championship for us is very big and games against England, no matter what they are, are just big anyway.

“They are the big brother. They are the guy you look over your shoulder and you are a little bit envious of. You’re always going to try to get one over your big brother.

“I think that’s a natural personality trait but, at the same time, there’s a little bit of angst and anxiety when the big brother is looking over the fence.”

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