Much more than a game
IRELAND'S Millennium Stadium heroes put their bodies on the line once more against England in Lansdowne Road this afternoon with everything to play for.
Rarely has so much been at stake in just the second week of the Six Nations as today's winners will leave the Aviva Stadium with the glittering prizes of Triple Crown, Championship and Grand Slam within their sole grasp.
And yesterday, England assistant coach Andy Farrell declared his squad fit and well ahead of the clash and that they are ready for whatever the home team has in store for them.
"This is as big as any game in world rugby – coming to Dublin is a challenge and one we're definitely ready for and up for," he said, after England's captain's run passed off without incident. "It's as big a challenge as anywhere in the world really, because of the history and the rivalry and just how good the teams are."
Ireland too came through their final run-out on a pitch, Rob Kearney described as perfect. He maintained that for the players it was more about playing a Test match than playing against England.
"What we sort of get a sense of is what it means to the country," he said. "To us it's just another game, 15 on 15, but it's very hard to ignore the buzz that is created. Everyone Irish, this is the one game that they big up and it's the one game that everyone is excited by."
England have won their last two meetings with Ireland, but have lost their last four Six Nations games in Dublin. Farrell said his squad weren't bothered by their poor record here.
"Not really. It was a big game last year for us at Twickenham as well. The talk before that game was that Ireland had won quite a lot of the games in the last 10 years etc. There were a lot of things what went on before that game, with the weather (for example). We've got more to think about than history really. We've got to think about the plan and the way we want to beat this Irish side."