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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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England tap into inside knowledge of Farrell's defensive systems

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick was part of the Lions backroom staff with Farrell in 2017.

ENGLAND ATTACK COACH Scott Wisemantel admits he was surprised by Joe Schmidt’s decision to relocate Robbie Henshaw to the backfield for tomorrow’s Six Nations showdown at the Aviva Stadium.

But Eddie Jones’ backroom team have been able to do the necessary homework on Henshaw’s previous games in the position since yesterday’s team announcement, while also tapping into inside knowledge of Andy Farrell’s defensive systems.

Billy Vunipola and Eddie Jones Billy Vunipola and Eddie Jones during this morning's session in UCD. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Having arrived in Dublin from their training base in Portugal on Thursday evening, England had their captain’s run at the UCD Bowl in Belfield this morning, rather than have a run out at the match venue as is usually the norm the day before a game.

The sub-zero temperatures which have greeted them in the capital are a far cry from the sunny and serene surroundings of the Algarve, but England, they say, are ready for the red-hot atmosphere at the Aviva on Saturday evening.

Neither attack coach Scott Wisemantel or second row George Kruis were prepared to give too much away at this afternoon’s pre-match press conference, instead choosing to quietly reinforce their confidence that they are fully primed for the challenge ahead.

Wisemantel has ‘all the confidence in the world’ in the returning Manu Tuilagi as the Leicester centre starts his first international game in four years, while revealing he will catch up with fellow Australian Andy Friend, the Connacht head coach, for a pre-game chat this afternoon.

“I was surprised,” he said of Henshaw being named at fullback.

“I can understand why. Right after this, I’m going to catch up with Andy Friend, the coach of Connacht. I’ve done my homework. We’ve looked at his games when he did play fullback in 2016 I think it was. He’s a very good player, he’ll adapt.  

“Ireland are a very organised team. Well coached. They got very, very good players. Very good players that have played a lot together which I think is one of the advantages with the system here in Ireland.

“A smaller pool where they get continuity. I think the consistency of combinations for them is something that you see. They can hold the ball for a long period of time. We saw it last year, the game against France, right at the back end where they had to hold the ball and they went the full length and won the game. They’re an outstanding team.”

While unsurprisingly opting to keep his cards close to his chest when asked how England plan to break down Ireland’s defence, Wisemantel says the inside knowledge of forwards coach Steve Borthwick, who was on the same Lions staff as Farrell two years ago, has been valuable.

“Score more points than they do,” he laughed. “Look, we’ll chip away. We’ve got some things in place, I would be pretty naive to actually tell you what we’re going to do right now. But we’ve studied that really hard.

George Kruis and Scott Wisemantel George Kruis and Scott Wisemantel at this afternoon's press conference. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“Obviously, the other guy we have tapped into is Steve Borthwick, spending time with him [Andy Farrell] on the Lions tour. We have full respect of their system.”

Saracens lock Kruis, who will win his 28th England cap tomorrow, says it is the responsibility of the players selected to produce a performance for their side after a number of ‘top-class players’ didn’t make England’s matchday 23.

“At this point, it’s all mental now,” he said. “They’ve got a good pack, Irish teams normally do, but we’re pretty confident in ourselves as well.

“We’ve got some great players back from injury and we’ve a really good bench as well. There are some players that are left out of our squad as well that are top-class players so we’ll be fully ready.

There are no places for granted. We’re extremely lucky that over the last three years or so we’ve had a load of different combinations and when it comes to this sort of phase in a World Cup and a Six Nations period, we’ve got options. It makes training competitive, it makes playing competitive and obviously it makes us a better squad.

Kruis refused to be drawn on commenting on whether this Six Nations opener against Joe Schmidt’s side, ranked second in the world, at their Aviva Stadium fortress is as big of a challenge now as facing the All Blacks.

“This is our next challenge,” he insisted. “Tomorrow is our next challenge, it’s all we can prepare for. It’s all we’ve done the last few weeks, every thought has gone into this. For us, this is our next challenge. We realise they’re a good team and full of confidence but we’re a well-prepped team as well, we’ll be flying.

“These are the sort of games you really realise it’s a privilege to play in them. Full house, big start to a campaign against a top-quality team. We all realise we’re extremely fortunate to be in this position. We’ve got to get ourselves mentally set for the game now.”

Simon Zebo joins Gavan and Murray for a special live recording of the podcast in Dublin’s Liberty Hall Theatre to preview Ireland’s Six Nations opener against England:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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