Monday 18 December 2017

'Most teams in the Six Nations have one big performance' - Eddie Jones' thinly veiled dig at Ireland

England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones has warned Ireland they face no ordinary team as England seek to conquer the "mountain" that will deliver back-to-back Grand Slams.

Only Joe Schmidt's men can prevent the RBS 6 Nations champions from becoming the sixth side in the history of the tournament to retain the most sought-after prize in European rugby.

Also at stake when the rivals collide in Dublin is a new world record for consecutive Test wins with victory propelling England past the 18-Test milestone established by New Zealand last year.

It has been a disappointing Six Nations for the Irish, who have fallen to Scotland and Wales in a year when expectations were high following last autumn's victory over the All Blacks, but Jones expects them to explode into life in the final round.

Standing before them, however, will be an England side fresh from their seven-try rout of Scotland who Jones believes are ready scale new heights.

"Most teams in the Six Nations have one big performance - we've seen that from all the teams," Jones said.

"They’ve got nothing to worry about. They have got no fear of failure, they were favourites for the competition and now they are out of it so we are anticipating a tough encounter.

"We are anticipating Ireland to be at their best, particularly because they've got nothing to fear, which always liberates a team.

"But when I said 'most teams', we are not 'most teams'. We are a different team, we've showed that, and we are ready to take it to another level on Saturday.

"To go from where we are to greatness takes another step of endeavour. It takes greater focus, it takes greater persistence, it takes greater emotional output.

"It is like climbing up a mountain - every time you go to another level of the mountain it becomes more unstable.

"The ground becomes more unstable, your ears hurt, your nose hurts. It is exactly the same when you are climbing the ladder of success - everything becomes a bit harder.

"And sometimes you have got to just stop and say, 'Right, this is what is ahead of us.' And probably we weren't very good at that. In retrospect, that's my fault.

"We have done that and I think the players have understood the challenges ahead and re-equipped for the challenges ahead."

Jones has paid to tribute to his predecessor Stuart Lancaster as England close in on the first Grand Slam to be secured in the Six Nations era.

The Australian has induced a dramatic upturn in results and performances since his appointment after the 2015 World Cup, but of the starting XV that will take to the field at the Aviva Stadium, only Elliot Daly and Maro Itoje were not capped by Lancaster, who now acts as Leinster's defence coach.

"The guy I think should get a lot of credit for the team's success is Stuart Lancaster," Jones said.

"He was the guy that brought this team through, went through some hard yards with them, most of the players are still the same.

"I know he's batting on the other side now with Leinster, so I don't know (who) he's barracking for on Saturday!"

England are favourites to topple the Irish, but Jones insists the 2014 and 2015 champions will be able to play without the burden of expectation.

"Ireland don't have to worry about failing. It's a winner-takes-all for them and that makes them even more dangerous. They are going to come out all guns blazing," he said.

"They were favourites for the competition and now they are out of it, so we are anticipating a tough encounter."

England have made two changes to their starting XV with Billy Vunipola displacing Nathan Hughes at number eight and Anthony Watson preferred ahead of Jack Nowell on the right wing.

Press Association

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