Monday 23 April 2018

Lancaster: I'd be surprised if England are not ready

Stuart Lancaster looks on during an England training session this week
Stuart Lancaster looks on during an England training session this week
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Stuart Lancaster believes England are ready for whatever Ireland throw at them at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow as the Six Nations' top two go head to head in a Grand Slam eliminator.

The coach has not suffered defeat in three outings against Ireland but is hugely impressed with what Joe Schmidt has put together. However, he is backing his team to come out on top despite admitting that Dublin is a hostile place for English sides.

"Creating belief in your team is the art of coaching," he said. "In every game we've been involved in from the start we've always believed we can win.

"But that belief has to be built on some sort of foundation and the foundations of the last two weeks have been excellent.

"We've come off two good wins, we've had a settled team and we've had time to work on systems.

"That's why it is such a fascinating game because Ireland have been in the same position.

"I'd be very surprised if the England team weren't ready for this game.

"The margins between the teams will be very small, it will be decided on key moments.

"It could be discipline, a defensive error, a moment of brilliance but I think it will be tight.

"It's a very difficult place to go and win. There's plenty of evidence in history to say how difficult a place Ireland is to go.

"Sometimes when you're playing against Irish teams you feel like you're playing against 16 or 17. Because the energy that they bring.

"People like Paul O'Connell, who's an inspirational leader, he'll be at his best in his pre-game messages. So it will be as difficult a game as we've had in a long time."

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