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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019
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Kiss wary of England's 'scary midfield' as preparations intensify ahead of Aviva showdown

The Ireland defence coach believes this weekend’s game won’t decide the Championship.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

AFTER A WEEKEND off, Ireland reconvene at their Carton House base tomorrow morning as Joe Schmidt’s side begin their preparations for the visit of England next Sunday.

Many are labelling the clash at the Aviva Stadium as the Six Nations decider given both sides have won their opening two games of the Championship and Les Kiss has admitted England’s new-found attacking prowess under Stuart Lancaster has taken the Irish camp by surprise.

England have scored 68 points in wins over Wales and Italy, running in eight tries.

Bath centre Jonathan Joseph has scored three of those after making his debut at the Millenium Stadium on the opening weekend and Kiss concedes Ireland will have to be at their best defensively to keep England’s back-line in check.

“If you look at that scary relationship in midfield with George Ford – he has a relationship already with Watson and Joseph,” he said.

“Those types of combinations seem to be coming through for them nicely. (Danny) Cipriani comes on late and shows some magic as well.

“I think also their back row has been brilliant, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola are big threats and Chris Robshaw is excellent. The momentum that they give them is critical and they can take the ball deep and still make yards.”

In comparison, Ireland have yet to click into gear with the ball in hand but solid defensive displays have underpinned their successes in Rome and, most recently, at home to France.

Kiss insists the side are improving with each match but believes this weekend’s fixture may not be the defining one in the campaign as many expect it to be.

“I think we’re evolving,” Kiss said of Ireland’s backplay after their camp in Galway. “I don’t think we pretend to be complete. We know that there are a variety of ways to look at the game analyse it and pick out what works best.”

“We have a strong work ethos in the team, it’s the bedrock of what we’re about, and with the type of competition it is, it’s not going to be over until the last game, no matter what happens in the next match.

“There are more surprises to come, Scotland have more to come, the French can be dangerous still, and Wales will keep coming. I don’t think the result will determine the tournament at all.”

The loss of Jamie Heaslip leaves a considerable void to fill but Johnny Sexton came through Racing Metro’s draw with Clermont on Saturday unscathed and the Irish management will be praying he reports for duty on Tuesday in clean health.

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