Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ireland camp hit back at England manager Eddie Jones' aerial jibe

England coach enlists Wilkinson to counter 'kick and clap' battle

England head coach Eddie Jones during training
England head coach Eddie Jones during training
Kicking coach Jonny Wilkinson looks on during England training yesterday. Photo: Getty
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Eddie Jones has enlisted the help of Jonny Wilkinson to prepare his team to face Ireland's aerial assault but Ireland insist England use the boot just as much as they do.

After the Australian predicted that it would be "raining high balls" at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, the 2003 World Cup-winning legend (above) spent the opening part of yesterday's training session kicking with full-back Mike Brown in preparation.

"It will be raining high balls," Jones commented. "It will be kick and clap and the fans at the Aviva love it. They love that and get excited so we know what to expect."

However, Ireland assistant coach Greg Feek rejected the notion that Joe Schmidt's team employ kicking tactics any more than the Six Nations champions who are chasing back-to-back Grand Slams this weekend.

"I don't think we kick any more than England kick," the former All Black said.

"That's what I've seen. In a game of rugby you have to kick the ball. It's about taking pressure off or putting pressure on. We would kick to compete.

Structures

"We have good kicking structures, so it's not for the sake of kicking. And if a player thinks it's the right time to kick, then that's his decision.

"The All Blacks kick the ball a lot too. They don't play hardly any ball in their own '22'. So, if you're capable of kicking and if you kick well, then you probably will kick, and the All Blacks, England and us have talent available, we have left-footers and right-footers.

"We have got options there to kick the ball, and as a forward seeing a ball go downfield and you're getting territory is sometimes a boost as well."

Keith Earls has emerged as an injury doubt after his groin strain kept him out of training yesterday, but Schmidt may make allowances after the Moyross native played so well against Wales last Friday. Elliott Daly has remained in England's 25-man squad.

Meanwhile, Ulster are reeling from the news that their star signing Marcell Coetzee could miss the rest of the season after suffering a "significant" knee injury last weekend, while they confirmed Tommy Bowe would be out for eight-12 weeks with a broken ankle.

Irish Independent

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