Wednesday 29 January 2020

England's pack will be a major threat, insists Ireland coach Mark Tainton

IRELAND assistant coach Mark Tainton insists England's pack will provide their greatest threat at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Six Nations will draw to a close with a showdown that is almost certain to determine who finishes tournament runners up behind Grand-Slam chasing Wales.

Ireland have won on seven of the last eight times the rivals have met dating back to 2004, including three of the last four at Twickenham.

But after a disastrous World Cup England have been rejuvenated under the guidance of interim coach Stuart Lancaster, and Tainton admits they are in super form.

"England are playing very well. Owen Farrell has done extremely well at fly-half for a young lad," he said.

"There's obviously added pressure on him with his father (Andy) being one of the coaches, but he's handled it easily.

"The power and pace of Manu Tuilagi is also a major threat, but you can never get too far away from the England pack.

"They always produce a good eight and have a very strong tight five, so we'll have to match that."

England have made just one change to the side that edged France 24-22 in Paris with wing David Strettle replacing Charlie Sharples after recovering from a sternum injury.

"David Strettle coming back in makes them stronger. He played in the first three games of the championship," Tainton said.

"One thing he's got is out and out pace. Since he's moved to Saracens he's really blossomed and will be a big threat.

"He was very unlucky not to be given the try against Wales that would possibly have earnt England a draw.

"He's dangerous and goes looking for the ball, as does Chris Ashton, so we'll have to make sure we're solid around the breakdown."

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