Sunday 25 August 2019

'It's fun. You want to play the best in the world away from home' - Eddie Jones

England boss fears Murray's aerial bombardment but is confident his side can beat Ireland

Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones
Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones
Conor Murray, at yesterday’s training session at the Aviva Stadium, was identified as one of Ireland’s key weapons by England boss Eddie Jones. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

All of the pressure is on Ireland ahead of tomorrow's Six Nations opener, according to England head coach Eddie Jones.

Having named a strong team before leaving Portugal for Dublin, the Australian labelled Joe Schmidt's side the world's best but backed his team to unseat them at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland coach Schmidt confirmed that Robbie Henshaw will start at full-back as Conor Murray returns to the scrum-half slot, while Jack Nowell comes on to the wing for England who have Manu Tuilagi in the midfield. The reigning Six Nations champions are eight-point favourites going in to the first game of their title defence.

"It's fun. You want to play the best in the world away from home, and Ireland are the best in the world at the moment," Jones said.

"Everyone is writing them up.

"They have got to carry that expectation around and we're excited about the prospect of playing there.

"The boys are fit, they're together, they're serious but they've got a smile on their face. They're good to go and they want to make England proud.

"I'd hate to go into a game thinking we weren't better than the opposition, that we need surprises or tricks to win the game. We don't need that.

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"We want Ireland to be at their absolute best, we want to be at our best and for the best team to win."

For Jones, the game boils down to two things.

"I think there are two key contest areas," he said.

"The number of poaches Ireland have attempted at the tackle almost doubled in the autumn.

"They're a much more aggressive side at the tackle contest. That's going to be a key area. And we know (Conor) Murray is probably one of the foremost experts of the high punt. So that's the second area. There's going to be a lot of possession in those areas."

Having named Seán O'Brien on the bench, Schmidt said he believes the game will go the distance.

"They've a great bench and we have a good bench and that final quarter will probably be where the game is decided," he said.

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