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'They'll try bore the s*** out of us' - England coach Mitchell slams Ireland’s style of play as tensions mount ahead of Six Nations opener

 

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England defence coach John Mitchell. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

England defence coach John Mitchell. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Getty Images

England defence coach John Mitchell. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

England assistant coach John Mitchell has ratcheted up tensions in the build-up to Saturday's Six Nations opener by claiming Ireland will "try to bore the s***" out of his side".

The former All Blacks supremo's comments are unlikely to go down well with the reigning champions who begin their title defence at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

Ireland scored 20 tries en route to their Grand Slam win last season and continued to develop their attacking game on tour to Australia and in engineering a November clean sweep with wins over Argentina and New Zealand.

In the build-up to that victory over the All Blacks, Ireland's tactic of 'suffocation by possession' was highlighted by Steve Hansen's assistant Ian Foster, while Ireland have previously been criticised over their reliance on their kicking game.

A preview of the England team ahead of the 2019 Six Nations tournament.

While he praised Ireland's record, Mitchell was less than complimentary about their style of play.

"Our aim is to win the Six Nations," said Mitchell. "But it's Ireland now, and Ireland are arguably the best in the world.

"And Ireland, for me, are a side that through being a well-coached side are resilient, they will try to bore the s*** out of us, basically, and ultimately it will come down to a small piece of possession when you're not focused that can hurt you in a contest like this."

Rob Kearney, Jack McGrath, Jack Conan and Andrew Conway rejoined the 38-man Ireland squad and trained at Carton House yesterday, with Adam Byrne remaining in camp.

Kearney is expected to return to the team at full-back against the English, although Robbie Henshaw trained in the position during the Portuguese camp last week.

England flanker Brad Shields and winger Joe Cokanasiga are fit to play, but flanker Jack Clifford has been ruled out with a head injury.

A look at the Ireland team ahead of the 2019 Six Nations tournament.

Meanwhile, Simon Zebo has described his Ireland exile as "blunt and cold" as he faces his second Six Nations out of the selection picture following his move to Racing 92.

"I knew what was going to happen. So it's not that big of a shock but in terms of how blunt and cold it was, yeah, a little bit (surprised)," he said.

Irish Independent