Alan Quinlan expects England to triumph over Ireland in Sunday’s Six Nations clash but does feel that Eddie Jones’ side are under more pressure to win the game.
The former Munster and Ireland player was speaking on Friday’s OTB AM and deemed Eddie Jones' side to be in a better place than Ireland despite their poor start to 2020.
“For this Irish team, you talk about England having psychological scars but I’d rather be beaten in a World Cup final than be in Ireland’s position. So it’s a challenge for them.
“This is a real challenge and I think it’s probably completely flipped over where there’s more pressure on England to win this game than Ireland because there’s probably a bit more pessimism since the World Cup.
“Last year Eddie Jones talked about Ireland dealing with expectation and even though they didn’t win the World Cup they’re deemed as being right up at the top of the pile. They have to carry a bit of expectation,” Quinlan said.
While the Tipperary native has the English down as favourites, they have been dealt a number of injury blows with both Mako and Billy Vunipola ruled out, giving Ireland reason to believe they can win.
“I’m afraid to get too optimistic. I think they’re in a better position obviously and there’s a bit of optimism. England are not as strong as they were at the World Cup.
“You take the Vunipolas out of the team and there are a few kinks in the armour. I think Ireland will be there or thereabouts, there’s no doubt about it,” Quinlan commented.
'I think England will nudge it'
While England are lacking two of their main ball carriers in the Vunipola brothers’ absence, they’re certainly not lacking in firepower with Manu Tuilagi returning from injury.
“I just think that maybe England are probably [favourites]. Their desperation to get a result as well may just edge it for them.
“If Ireland start the game well and they’re anywhere near where they were two years ago - with the intensity and the execution - they’ll win the game. But that’s the challenge. Will England allow that?
“I think England will probably just nudge it. But I’m optimistic about Ireland running them very close or even being in the mix right until the very end,” Quinlan said.
Ireland take on England on Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm at Twickenham Stadium as they look to secure the Triple Crown and keep their Grand Slam ambitions alive.