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'You can only be physical if you know what you're doing'

The Munster back row relishes the competition that has placed him back at blindside and ready to row as a collective against a supercharged English outfit.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

‘THE ARM WRESTLE will come’, says CJ Stander.

England will guarantee it.

And while some Irish supporters might be keen on a different kind of game developing, Stander and his pack know there is no avoiding the physicality of Eddie Jones’ side.

They can only work to engage on their own terms.

Andy Farrell has selected an intriguing back row combination that places a high value on the jackaling ability of its triumverate while also offering additional line-out options.

Stander began his international career on Ireland’s blindside. And he has no qualms about returning there.

“Not a lot of changes for me. Literally it is just a number on the back. I can play a few positions,” says the Munster man.

The man who has slipped into Stander’s preferred number 8 shirt clearly has the potential to occupy the jersey for a long time to come. Stander relishes the competition.

“(Caelan Doris) has got good footwork, a big work rate, last weekend he made the job very easy for the rest of the back row.

“That touch he had for Cian (Healy’s) try was a nice touch he brought to his game. He is a competitor. Monday and Tuesday training is very competitive. And that’s what you need… he has upped the work rate for the whole backrow.”

That unit, along with every other, will be required to fire on all cylinders if Ireland are to end their three-game losing run against England on Saturday.

In each of those three encounters, Ireland were left reeling by a ferocious level of physicality from the World Cup finalists and now Six Nations champions. That will come again, but Ireland are intent on finding away to deal with it rather than blindly agreeing to fight fire with fire.

This game is physical anyway, you can’t just run out there and try to be physical and play off sheet as you will let the team down. We know what we need to do as a team.”

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“If we can get our set piece going and make sure we get off the line that will get us into the game. We can work from there.

“We have played against them a few times. The arm wrestle will come. It is just about who adapts to it better at certain times on the pitch.”

He adds: “You can only be physical if you know what you are doing. We’ve had a good week. We prepared well. We know what we are going to do.

“Again, scrum down, set piece, get that flowing, get that going, get off the line and bring the physicality we can bring.

“You can’t go out there and straight away look for physicality. It is international rugby.

“I am looking forward to the battle.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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