Eddie Jones challenges Ireland to ‘deliver a dominant performance’ against England in Autumn Nations Cup

Jack de Menezes
·3-min read
Eddie Jones has challenged Ireland to deliver a ‘dominant’ performance against England (AFP via Getty)
Eddie Jones has challenged Ireland to deliver a ‘dominant’ performance against England (AFP via Getty)

Eddie Jones has challenged Ireland to “bring a dominant performance to Twickenham” in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup showdown that he has described as England’s biggest match of the season.

The England head coach made four changes from the 40-0 victory over Georgia a week ago for this weekend’s meeting between the two unbeaten sides in Group A, selecting what he described as “the strongest team possible” in an effort to put one place in the final for the one-off tournament,

But after Ireland opened their account with a dominant 32-9 victory over Wales, Jones challenged England’s opponents to produce the same in a match that they have not won in their last three attempts, having suffered defeat to his side in the last two Six Nations encounters as well as the 2019 Rugby World Cup warm-up encounter.

"Ireland-England games are always big,” Jones said. “It's like when we go to Lansdowne Road, it's a huge game. It's a traditional rival game and it's a game we both want to win dearly.

“They are always tough, engrossing, hard-fought encounters and Saturday is going to be exactly the same. Our intensity is always pretty good, but definitely there's a bit more edge around the place. All the guys know Ireland's a very, very tough team.

READ MORE: Eddie Jones names England team to face Ireland

“Eighteen months ago they were ranked number one in the world so it shows you the class and ability of this team. We know we've got to be at our best to get the result we want to get.

“We’re not in control of the Irish selection, only our selection, so we’ve picked our best team and we are treating them as an Irish team and every Irish team I’ve ever coached against is committed, is hard-working, doesn’t give you anything you don’t deserve and I don’t expect any different on Saturday.

“As their coaching staff said, they were dominant (on Friday), so the challenge is can they bring a dominant Irish performance to Twickenham?”

Jones elected to make four changes to his side which all come in the pack, with props Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler returning in the front row and flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill recalled in place of Charlie Ewels and Jack Willis, with Maro Itoje returning to lock after an outing in the back row last weekend.

George Ford’s return to fitness is likely to see him make England’s side to face Ireland this SaturdayReuters
George Ford’s return to fitness is likely to see him make England’s side to face Ireland this SaturdayReuters

But he elected not to make any changes to the back line despite the availability of George Ford, with the fly-half among the replacements despite recovering from an Achilles injury. The Leicester Tigers half-back only returned to full training on Wednesday, and Jones admitted that throwing him in from the very start would prove too risky given his recent injury setback, meaning Owen Farrell will remain at No 10 with Henry Slade and 21-year-old Ollie Lawrence at centre in only the latter’s third international appearance.

“George is a very, very talented No 10,” Jones added. “He's been a mainstay of our team. He's played 69 Tests and for him to come on in the last part of the game and add his tactical nous, his tactical kicking, his goal kicking if needed and his distribution skills will be very handy for us.

“We didn't think he was quite ready to start. He's only done two sessions with us so we felt he needed more time, but certainly off the bench he'll be very handy for us.”

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