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'I don't know if they have any sort of X-factor' | Alan Quinlan on England

Ireland stand a good chance of beating England and keeping their now slim hopes of a Six Nations title alive, according to Alan Quinlan.



Rugby

'I don't know if they have any sort of X-factor' | Alan Quinlan on England

Ireland stand a good chance of beating England and keeping their now slim hopes of a Six Nations title alive, according to former Irish flanker Alan Quinlan.

France are the favourites to win the Championship this year. They have looked comfortable in almost every match they have won so far, and are on course to win the Grand Slam if they beat Wales next week and England in the final round.

However, Ireland and England could both mathematically win the title if France fall at one or both of the next two hurdles.

The old rivals will face each other next in the competition, however, meaning that after round four, only France and the winner of Ireland and England would be realistically in with a shout of winning the Six Nations.

Quietly confident

Speaking on Monday's OTB AM, Quinlan looked ahead to Ireland's next match against England in Twickenham.

"It is hard to judge them, but on the evidence from the weekend and what we have seen so far from England, it is a very risky thing to say, but I would be confident with Ireland going to Twickenham," Quinlan said.

Quinlan feels that England are missing some of their past aura. He does not believe that they are as physically imposing as they used to be.

"When you play England, going back to when I was playing, you always feared their power and aggression up front," Quinlan said.

"I'm not saying that they are not physical. They are very physical. [Ellis] Genge, [Maro] Itoje and even [Alex] Dombrandt is coming in there. He offers them a lot in attack and defence. He is a big, athletic player.

"But they are not overly dominant up front against teams at the moment."

In addition to their uncharacteristic lack of physical dominance, Quinlan has identified a major weakness in the English backline.

"They are lacking a bit of penetration in that backline," Quinlan said. "I don't know if they have any sort of X-factor. Marcus Smith at outhalf is very talented, but he is a bit like Joey Carbery.

"There is still a gap between him and what Owen Farrell has brought to England in the last couple of years. I just watched Welsh players continuously running into his channel in the second half and getting five to seven yards over the gainline.

"When you do that against the opposition, it is very hard to defend in-field."

Smith England

England are in transition

While he understands that England are still in a state of transition ahead of the next World Cup, Quinlan cannot help but to point out the areas that he feels Ireland can exploit.

"One of England's big strengths over the years, and continuously, has been stopping people at the gainline, overpowering the and putting pressure on the breakdown," Quinlan said.

"They are not really doing that against teams at the moment. Maybe we are being too harsh and too critical. They are in this major transition.

"Maybe Eddie Jones doesn't mind that they are going through this period. An English team at home, you'd think they would be a little bit more dominant.

"I don't think they were at major risk of losing the game [to Wales]. They controlled it pretty well, but it was blunt and it was hard to watch at times on Saturday.

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6 Nations Alan Quinlan Andy Farrell Brian O'Driscoll Carbery Full Match Highlights Hit Interview Italy Red Card Keith Wood Match O'Driscoll O'gara OTB AM Live Off The Ball Off The Ball Podcast Off The Ball Rugby Otb Otb Am Otb Sports Otbam Quinlan Red Card Ronan O'Gara Rugby Rugby Hits Rugby Off The Ball Rugby Podcast Rugby Union Sexton Six Nations TRY Wood

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