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'We play with a physicality that Ireland haven’t seen before' - Eddie Jones

The England boss pointed out that Andy Farrell’s men haven’t faced South Africa since 2017.

England and Ireland in action last year.
England and Ireland in action last year.

ENGLAND BOSS EDDIE Jones has challenged Ireland to live with his team’s physicality at Twickenham in Saturday’s Six Nations clash.

Jones claimed that this Ireland side haven’t been tested by a team as powerful and strong as his England side.

The likes of Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, and Ellis Genge will look to lead the English onslaught this weekend in London. 

“Whenever you play Ireland, the breakdown is a significant part of the game,” said Jones.

“They pride themselves on that area, but we are a very physical team and they haven’t played against a side as physical as us for a long time.

“If you look at their record, they haven’t played against South Africa since 2017. We played against South Africa last year and did well in those physical stakes so we intend to really take it to them.”

Jones repeated his message later when asked about England’s development in attack.

“There are a couple of things we’d like to do a lot better which is finish the attacking opportunities we’re creating and control the difficult parts of the game better,” said the Australian.

“At the same time, we want to impose our physicality on Ireland in this game.”

And Jones concluded his press conference by going as far as to suggest Ireland have never seen a team with England’s physicality.

“Ireland haven’t played against a team like us before, they haven’t played against South Africa since 2017,” said Jones.

“We play with a physicality that they haven’t seen before. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do on Saturday.”

Of course, Ireland have played against England as recently as last year, when Andy Farrell’s side won 32-18 in the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland also played against a very physical French team just four weeks ago, while they beat a New Zealand team that would certainly pride itself on its physicality in November. That said, Ireland have been beaten on their last three visits to Twickenham.

mondadori-lifestyle-collection-february-13-2022 Jones' England were beaten in Dublin last year. Source: Massimo Insabato

Jones’ assertion is an interesting one, given that Ireland head coach Farrell only recently stressed the need for his team to avoid falling into a physicality “trap.”

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That came in the wake of Ireland’s defeat to France, after which some commentary suggested that les Bleus’ size and power had been the key factor in deciding the game.

“It’s a trap,” said Farrell. “I’ve seen Irish teams in the past fall into this trap of, ‘They lost the physical battle’ and the next game, the sleeves are rolled up and the performance is worse. Because there is a reason why teams are physical or not.

“There were elements of that game where we were unbelievably physical. It’s because of our know-how and accuracy. There is a lot of fuel that has to go into being able to be physical and one of the main aspects of that is being connected, working well with one another, and making sure we’re not doing things on our own.

“The minute it becomes going off on a tangent, ‘I’ll do it, I’ll roll my sleeves up’ then the opposition are allowed to dominate you.

“There’s a bit of learning in or around that space of the game for us because it was more of an understanding about how physicality works, you have to earn the right to be physical and that’s something we have to learn.

“If we’ve all got 135kg blokes, just wind them up and let them go, but we’ve not got that so we’ve got to be a little bit smarter.”

tadhg-furlong-is-tackled-by-mark-wilson-and-kyle-sinckler Tadhg Furlong carries against England last year. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has since echoed Farrell’s sentiment and just this week, second row James Ryan indicated that they have perhaps been guilty of lacking accuracy when they have over-focused on physicality.

“Maybe we think too much about getting stuck in and maybe we let ourselves down a bit on other parts of the game, maybe the accuracy,” said Ryan.

“A big thing is getting the balance right between the intent and the focus. I thought we lacked a bit of focus at times against France. We were full of intent but it’s just getting that balance right this weekend.

“Irish teams going away to Twickenham, there would be an issue if you weren’t full of intent, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got that focus piece right as well so we can be accurate.”

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