ENGLAND have stirred up tensions before Saturday’s Six Nations curtain-raiser in Dublin by claiming Ireland will ‘try to bore the s*** out of us’.
Eddie Jones’ men cross the Irish Sea knowing victory would land an early blow in their quest to reclaim the crown they surrendered to Ireland last year.
Grand Slam holders Ireland are second in the world rankings behind New Zealand, who they beat at home in November, but England defence coach John Mitchell suggested they do not top the table when it comes to entertainment.
‘It’s our aim to win the Six Nations but first up is Ireland and arguably they are the best team in the world,’ said Mitchell. ‘For me, [they] are a side who — through their process being a well-coached side — are resilient and they will try to bore the s*** out of us basically.
‘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.
‘They’ve deserved the honours that came their way in 2018. Having them first up makes the challenge even more exciting. It’s a challenge you don’t over-think — you walk towards it and embrace it.
‘It’s always been tough playing there, but it’s even harder now. ‘They’re very consistent and have a process they’re confident in.’
England name their team on Thursday, with the fitness of Brad Shields (pictured) and Joe Cokanasiga the main concerns.
Owen Farrell is on course to captain the side after thumb surgery, while flanker Shields (side) and wing Cokanasiga (knee) have until tomorrow to prove they are fully fit.
‘Brad was in contact conditioning and is moving nicely,’ said Mitchell. ‘Owen has been integrating further and further. He’s very vocal and very energetic. It looks like he’s enjoyed a little bit of a break.’
Flanker Jack Clifford, who was not expected to be in the matchday 23, has gone home from Portugal with a head injury.
■ SCRUM-HALF Danny Care has signed a new two-year deal with Harlequins. The 32-year-old, who has played more than 250 times for Quins, said: ‘I’ve had 13 amazing years here and I can’t wait to see what the next few will hold. I believe the club is in a great place.’ Care is England’s most capped No.9 with 84 caps but he was omitted from the squad preparing to face opening Six Nations opponents Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.