Tuesday 14 August 2018

Paul O'Connell outlines the difference between Ireland and England heading into next week's Grand Slam game

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Paul O'Connell believes there is one issue that is separating Ireland and England as they face into a St Patrick's Day showdown, clarity in what they are doing.

Joe Schmidt's side have been ruthlessly efficient in amassing 19 points out of a possible 20 in their four games but England have stuttered badly in defeats to Scotland and France, the first time they have suffered back-to-back Six Nations losses in nine years.

Ireland were crowned Six Nations champions with a game to spare after England failed to win with a bonus point in Paris and instead slumped to a 22-16 defeat.

Eddie Jones admitted that his team are in a “tough period” right now and have been left behind by the likes of New Zealand and Ireland when it comes to managing the breakdown – an area that massively cost England for the second game running as they conceded an alarming 16 penalties and 12 turnovers.

Speaking on BBC, O'Connell said there was a big contrast in terms of the clarity of the gameplans being adopted by England and Ireland.

"What Ireland have is real clarity in how they want to play. Every player, from one to 23 and probably eight or nine beyond that have real clarity in how they want to play in every part of the pitch from five metres out from their own line to five metres out from the opposition line. When you have clarity in what you're doing, you can execute with real physicality and aggression," he said.

"At times I think England today, because they are trying to play so much shape with the out-the-back passes, there isn't a lot of physicality to how they are playing.

"I don't think Ireland will change much from what they've been doing up to now. They'll exit from their own half really well - sometimes they will kick with Conor Murray, and sometimes they will run it. They will run little three-phase plays off scrums and lineouts where they'll have seen various little things that England do in defence and they'll try and catch them that way, and when they get into the opposition 22, they will keep it very, very simple, they'll be very direct and their ruck will be really good.

"Teams that play really good rugby, there actually isn't a whole lot of complication to what they do."

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