Keith Earls - 'Every game we play in is brutal - it's 15 men trying to kill 15 men within the rules of the game'
Keith Earls has laughed off the idea that Ireland’s opening Six Nations game will be any more physical than other Test matches.
Last week, England coach Eddie Jones warned that his team would need to bring a level of brutality to claim the scalp of the 2018 Grand Slam winners at the Aviva Stadium.
Joe Schmidt embraced the topic and spoke of the physicality levels the likes of Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi and the Vunipola brothers can bring to the party as Jones brings a strong squad to Dublin.
Earls has been aware of the talk, but is not expecting anything different.
"Every game we play in is brutal and physical because it's 15 men trying to kill another 15 men within the rules of the game, you know?," he said.
"I wouldn't get too bogged down in it. I'd obviously expect a game like that to be brutal, brutally physical.
"As I said, they are expected to be brutally physical against Scotland, the Italians and the Welsh as well.
"So, it's nothing new, it's just the two coaches...on the field, we always know it's going to be brutal."
Grand Slam winners in 2016 and champions a year later, England finished a disappointing fifth in the tournament last year.
Earls believes they will be back to their best this time around.
"They didn't have much to improve on. They've had a couple of, I suppose, rocky results in the last couple of years," he said.
"I don't know will people think all of a sudden that they've gone downhill a small bit. They're still a top-quality side.
"Narrowly losing to New Zealand in November and a couple of good results in November. We know what to expect from them. It's always a massively physical game and we're definitely not looking at their form.
"Over the past, we know what they're well capable of. We've seen it in November and it's going to be a massive game."
"They're a top quality side. Just looking at some of the back-three that they have picked and it's hard to believe that one or two of them are going to miss out on selection - they're world-class players.
"I think with the Vunipola brothers coming (back), they are going to have threats all over the field.
"We're going to have to start strong, not like we did in the last couple of years where we kind of had a slow start or a Johnny Sexton kick getting us out of trouble. I suppose that puts a lot of pressure on us as well.
"We know the challenge that's in front of us is massive."
While Ireland come into the tournament on the back of a historically successful 2018, Earls warned they can’t rest on their laurels.
"We have been on a good roll, but we will never get too carried away with ourselves; we still have lots to work on," he said.
"We had a lot of mistakes in November. We are trying to build towards a perfect performance, which is probably impossible but we build towards it. Hopefully that will be enough to get us the result."
The IRFU confirmed that the entire squad was fit to train at Carton House this afternoon, with Jack Conan and Andrew Conway back in camp and Adam Byrne and Quinn Roux remaining with the squad.