Friday 22 February 2019

Rory Best: 'We need our best-ever performance against England'

Ireland captain Rory Best during an Ireland rugby press conference
Ireland captain Rory Best during an Ireland rugby press conference
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland captain Rory Best says Ireland need their best performance of the Joe Schmidt era to defeat England in their Six Nations opener tomorrow.

The skipper led his side on their eve of match Captain's Run at the Aviva Stadium and the IRFU said all 23 players trained fully and were fit to play.

Ireland's are heavy favourites to kick off their title defence with a win over the old enemy, but Best warned they'll need something special to get the job done.

"We're going to need the best game of rugby that this group has ever played, because that's what it will take to win this weekend," he said.

"They will be physical, but they will also play with a lot of width and speed; that's their plan.

"There weren't many surprises in their team selection.

"You need to get on the front foot, up front. That's what they'll be coming to do.

"But that's what we want to do as well. It will be about who can win that arm wrestle up front."

Ireland's last outing as a unit came in the win over New Zealand and the skipper reckons the team can get even better as they step into the competitive arena of the Six Nations.

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"I think there is still more and we've got to find more," Best said.

"There's no doubt we'll need it and this is Six Nations rugby, it's different to the autumn internationals.

"The autumn internationals is playing a team that's a little bit unknown. Argentina and New Zealand, we study them but we don't play against them in Europe in the Six Nations every year.

"You're not very close neighbours to them. England know us inside out, they probably know us a lot better than the Southern Hemisphere teams do.

"And you're into competition. None of us ever treat the autumn internationals as friendlies but, ultimately, that's what they are.

"This is a competition, a championship and all of that squeezes the pressure on you and creates a different sort of atmosphere. It probably means you have to play to a higher level than we did in November, sure."

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