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Kearney: England the one clash we all love

As Ireland head to Twickenham, they do so armed with the knowledge that they no longer fear the 'cabbage patch.'

Historically, England remain streets ahead -- 71-46 -- but the contemporary reading is better for Irish eyes: seven wins in eight championship outings, three of the last four in London.

"It probably means you are a better side than them," says Ireland full-back Rob Kearney. Sometimes the best explanations are the simplest.

"I'd like to think that trend would continue and that we do remain a better side. They are probably outdoing themselves in this Six Nations in terms of the expectation levels they had coming into the competition.

"They've an inexperienced side and maybe an inexperienced coaching panel. They've outdone themselves and that victory last weekend just showcased what they can offer."

Kearney watched Ireland destroy England's Grand Slam dream from Row Z of Lansdowne Road last year as he recovered from a serious knee injury. From his eyrie, he could see how the keen rivalry of the fixture still tightly grips the participants.

"That will still be there in 50 years time," he stresses. "It is something we have built into us as Irish people and I think it is important to try and use that to our advantage this weekend."

Emotions must remain curtailed; the innate sense of superiority that tagged the fixture in times of yore has dissipated of late. With Ireland regularly beating their old rival, there is little need for sentiment to intervene.

"That's never really spoken about at all. But like I say, it is something that is instilled in us a little bit and maybe sometimes things don't need to be said.

"That is not to say there's not rivalry against all the other teams because there is.

"But I just think there is something about the English fixtures that just spices things up a little more.

"I'm a lot more excited by this weekend because I think England is the one clash we all love and it is the one, being Irish, you get excited for.

"I suppose that it is on St Patrick's Day just adds a little more spice to it."

Irish Independent