Can Ireland stop England from achieving history?
Looking ahead to a massive Six Nations clash12:15 Thursday 16 March 2017, 12:15 16 Mar 2017
Former England captain Will Carling has given an optimistic view of Ireland's chances, as they prepare to meet England in the final Six Nations clash of the tournament.
England have already won the championship but they still have so much more to play for. The prospect of a second Grand Slam in a row, but also the chance be the most successful team in rugby history with a 19th straight win.
Beating Scotland last week meant that England had won 18 test matches in a row, equaling a record held by the All Blacks. They now have the chance to write their names in the history books with a win on Saturday.
Speaking to Alan Quinlan on Newstalk Breakfast about England's chances of securing back-to-back Grand Slams, Carling said that Ireland could prove to be a tricky assignment.
"For me it's set up for Ireland. The alarm bells are ringing. They beat New Zealand and they are the best team in the world let's be honest."
England went to Paris last year in very similar circumstances as they fought for a Grand Slam.
Image: Tadgh Furlong and others training in Carton house today.
The former English captain feels his national side needs to remain level headed for the fixture at the Aviva Stadium:
"They need to not get carried away with what happened against Scotland where they played very well but if I’m honest Scotland were very poor and allowed them [England] to run away with that game."
Ireland's kicking game is very strong, especially when Sexton is pulling the strings. Carling believes it could be a key factor throughout the game.
"Ireland have the best half back pairing, they are the smartest. Their kicking is very intelligent and so is their chase game. It’s a huge test for England's back three."
It's very hard to pick holes in this English side but if they were to have a weakness, Carling feels Ireland must attack Ford and Youngs to stop them playing fluid rugby.
Image: Simon Zebo trains at Carton House today
"I think around halfback they will try and put Ford and Youngs under pressure. I think Stander [Ireland] has been the standout back row player in the tournament. His ball carrying and work rate I think are incredible. I think the set piece will also be a huge part of it. If England can get a good set piece and a platform they are pretty potent. England’s bench is also a huge factor. They have so much power there. I think Ireland need to get ahead and cleverly close out the game."
In giving his verdict on the game, Carling said Ireland could well threaten an ambush on Eddie Jones' side:
"I think it's too close to call. It all depends what mental state England are in. I don't mean that in an arrogant way. If they can get their minds right then I do think with everything they possess at the moment and the momentum they have got they stand a very good chance.
"But out of all teams Ireland are the hardest in The Six Nations and in Dublin I think it will be the biggest challenge England will face. I just think it’s too close to call."
Listen to the full interview here:
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