Tuesday 23 January 2018

We don't fear Irish – Robshaw

Reputations will count for little, insists England captain

Chris Robshaw runs with the ball during the England training session this week ahead of Saturday's Triple Crown decider against Ireland
Chris Robshaw runs with the ball during the England training session this week ahead of Saturday's Triple Crown decider against Ireland

Ruaidhri O'Connor and David Kelly

ENGLAND captain Chris Robshaw has declared his side do not fear Ireland ahead of Saturday's Triple Crown decider at Twickenham.

As Joe Schmidt prepares to name an unchanged team for his first away match as Ireland coach, the Harlequins openside flanker insisted that the experience in the Irish ranks will count for little come kick-off.

The New Zealander looks set to stick with the same starting XV that beat Wales for the third Six Nations outing of the season as long as Brian O'Driscoll shakes off the bug that kept him out of training earlier this week.

Iain Henderson is likely to get the nod to replace his injured Ulster teammate Dan Tuohy on the bench, while Eoin Reddan's inclusion in Leinster's team to face Cardiff Blues tonight means Isaac Boss has done enough to prove his fitness after suffering a concussion last Friday.

England have to win if they are to retain their ambition of winning the championship. they have won their last three against Ireland and their skipper is bullish about their chances.

"A lot has been spoken about the experience of their players, the O'Driscolls, the O'Connells, the Heaslips, the list goes on, but we need to look at the experience we have got," he said.

"On the last two occasions we have beaten them home and away. One, a good scoreline here, the other a great performance in very tough conditions to win in Dublin.

"And we have looked at what went right and wrong. They have come a long way since then.

"But we are confident. It is our home pitch.

"I don't think our guys will worry about reputations. Our guys have been around long enough to play against the best names in world rugby, in the Heineken Cup, to be ready for anything, these guys you mention. Our guys will play what is in front of them and not the reputation."

Meanwhile, Ronan O'Gara has backed Anthony Foley to succeed as Munster coach after his confirmation in the job yesterday.

"It's a massive appointment, I'm absolutely thrilled for Anthony, because he's a special person. I've seen what he has brought to the changing room as a player; I've played under him as a coach and there is no bigger admirer of Munster rugby than Anthony Foley," said O'Gara.

"I think it is fantastic that somebody of that calibre will be coach of Munster and it is a fantastic advertisement of his qualities and the qualities that he brings to the whole set-up.

"It's a massive job and I've been on record in the past in saying they should trawl the world for the best coach and there is no doubt they did that and at this point Anthony Foley is the best candidate in the world.

"He is up for it, there will be a perception of Anthony doing things differently, but Anthony's a warm, intelligent person and I think Munster will thrive under him."

Ireland (possible v England) – R Kearney; A Trimble, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O'Connell (capt); P O'Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip. Reps: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, I Henderson, T O'Donnell, I Boss, P Jackson, F McFadden.

Irish Independent

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