The ghosts of Twickenham past will make sure that Ireland don’t get carried away.
Joe Schmidt’s side take on England on Saturday with the Triple Crown within their grasp. Win and thoughts will inevitably turn to the Championship and maybe even dreams of a Grand Slam.
Tails are up following the ruthless dismantling of Wales in Dublin a fortnight ago but Paul O’Connell knows the fierce test that lies in wait and promised that there’s no danger of Ireland getting ahead of themselves.
“There is a good buzz about the team,” the captain said at today’s team announcement, “but the confidence is certainly not sky high. It’s realistic.
“It’s going to be a big step up this weekend. It’s going to be our first away game since Joe has taken over.
We’ve prepared well but we’re realistic about how good we need to be to try and win the game.
Two years ago Ireland’s weak scrum was laid bare in a 30-9 defeat on English soil.
But this time around, on paper at least, the front row advantage appears to lie with the visitors. The only change in Stuart Lancaster’s side sees David Wilson, rather than the injured Dan Cole, line up opposite Cian Healy.
“When you look at the record books at the moment, the last three times that we’ve played England, we’ve lost to them,” O’Connell said. “We’ve been beaten well by them at times .
“The way we’ve been playing in recent times, particularly our last three games under Joe, has been really good but I think everyone is aware that this is a big step up this weekend in physicality, in fitness, and mentally I think it’s going to be a big challenge as well.
“England have spoken a lot about Twickenham being a fortress for them and it is. They’re really doing well there.
“For us it’s going to be a massive challenge.”
- Sports & Recreation