English club woes won't be a factor at the Aviva, Ford insists
After a weekend that saw three Irish provincial wins over English clubs to confirm a quarter-final roster that includes Leinster, Munster and Ulster, England's George Ford batted away suggestions that the European results will have a bearing on next week's Six Nations opener at the Aviva Stadium.
Both squads now repair to Portugal to prepare for the eagerly anticipated clash of the two teams who have dominated the competition since 2014, with Ireland claiming three titles and one Grand Slam and England two titles with one a clean sweep.
Ford is expecting a tight battle in Dublin, but after playing well in Leicester's 14-13 loss to Ulster on Saturday he is not expecting any baggage to follow the English into the international arena.
"I don't think it plays any part," he said. "It is not a great stat for the English teams but we will get together as a squad in Portugal and prepare as well as we can. It will be an almighty Test match in Dublin, but it will be completely different to what we have been playing in.
"I think they (Ireland) are a brilliant team, especially at home. The last 12, 18 months in the way they have played and the results they have got speaks for itself. We understand the challenge ahead of us.
"We're excited about it. If you win your first game then you are off, if you don't then you are playing catch-up."
Ford's rival for the No 10 shirt, Owen Farrell, sat out Saracens' 38-19 win over Glasgow after undergoing a minor thumb operation, but Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall confidently predicted he'll be fit in time.
"As far as I know he'll be back in seven days, something like that, so he should be able to play a full part in the Six Nations," he said.