Triple threat: Rejuvenated Ireland have brushed off World Cup woes and head to Twickenham aiming for clean sweep of home nations
- Ireland are desperate to show green shoots of recovery after World Cup misery
- Jordan Larmour is rapidly earning a reputation for himself in Ireland colours
- Eddie Jones’ England have had Ireland’s number recently, winning the last two
- The two sides meet each other next in what is the tournament’s crunch match
Ireland are desperate to show green shoots of recovery after a harrowing World Cup under Joe Schmidt.
And now with Andy Farrell at the helm they are two wins from two, having beaten Scotland and Wales, and come to Twickenham next hunting a Triple Crown.
Sportsmail analyses their threats, and what has changed under the new coach.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
In 2018 — Ireland’s best year when they beat the All Blacks and won the Grand Slam — they combined brute force with breakdown menace. There was little subtlety to it aside from the odd training-ground move in attack.
Against Wales, having endured a horrid 2019, it was back to the future with CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier dominating at the ruck area. Stander won three big turnovers in defence and in attack the massive ball-carriers — like Tadhg Furlong and Bundee Aki — were forced through holes by ‘latch’ men.
Ireland have been in top shape in the Six Nations and look to have banished World Cup woes
Captain Johnny Sexton said that Ireland were not looking back to the glory days of 2018 but stressed that they have by no means thrown out all of Schmidt’s ideas.
‘We’re trying to draw a line under last year, and 2018, and we’re trying to develop something new and trying to do things slightly differently,’ he said.
‘In saying that, I think some of the messages that have come out of our camp haven’t been taken the way they should be. We’ve taken a lot of what Joe’s done over the last few years and we’ve built on it and we’ve added bits to it and to suggest that we’ve just sort of thrown away everything is just wrong.’
One element that was more noticeable for Wales is how Ireland looked to stretch them wider in attack this time.
From almost the first whistle Sexton, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw were keen to unleash Jacob Stockdale and Andrew Conway out wide.
Jacob Stockdale was unleashed by Ireland and capitalised upon the narrow Wales defence
It was made to look more successful by the Welsh defence staying so narrow — and poor games for Nick Tompkins and George North — but the approach surprised flanker Justin Tipuric.
‘With Ireland they normally play a tight game and that’s something they might have looked at in terms of challenging us a bit wider which is a bit unlike an Ireland team as they normally try and take you on up front and out-muscle you,’ he said. ‘That’s something they did differently.’
LOT OF LOVE FOR LARMOUR
While lots of the old-guard — like Sexton, Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony — have remained, there are new stars.
Jordan Larmour is just 22 but has now won 22 caps and secured the No 15 shirt. His hot-stepping has become legendary already in a Leinster shirt — and he fooled Tompkins and Wales for his try which reminded Farrell of England’s ‘Billy Whizz’ Jason Robinson.
‘Jason and Jordan have got similar type of feet, the way that Jordan broke those tackles for the try he has similar type of strength as well. It’s super exciting.’
Jordan Larmour is just 22 but has now won 22 caps and secured the No 15 shirt for Ireland
EXCITED FOR ENGLAND
Eddie Jones’ England have had Ireland’s number recently — winning the last two matches 32-20 in Dublin and 57-15 at Twickenham.
In both games it has been England’s power game that has overawed the Irish.
But with Manu Tuilagi and Billy Vunipola both missing through injury, and the English less confident after a stuttering start to the Six Nations, Sexton senses the chance of victory.
Eddie Jones’ England have had Ireland’s number recently — winning the last two matches
‘The last two times we’ve played England they’ve given us a right old spanking,’ said the skipper.
‘So we need to up our game from those levels of performances. It’s a tough place to go Twickenham. We haven’t had too many victories over the years and it’ll be no different now coming into this game. It’s a tough place to go.’
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