England braced for Irish onslaught

Sat, 09 Feb 2013 16:16
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England captain Chris Robshaw has insisted his side won't be caught unawares by Ireland when they try to end a decade of Six Nations defeats in Dublin on Sunday.

England captain Chris Robshaw has insisted his side won't make the mistake of being caught unawares by Ireland when they try to end a decade of Six Nations defeats in Dublin on Sunday.

Two years ago England, who haven't enjoyed Championship success in the Irish capital since their Grand Slam and World Cup-winning year of 2003, arrived at Lansdowne Road eyeing a clean sweep of their Six Nations rivals.

But Ireland, roared on by a typically passionate home crowd, stormed into a 14-0 lead before the half-hour mark and went on to win 24-8.

Robshaw didn't play in that fixture and, in common with several England colleagues, Sunday's match will be his first international in Dublin.

But the 26-year-old back row insisted he knew what was coming his way in a clash where England and Ireland will defend unbeaten tournament records after first-round wins over Scotland and champions Wales respectively.

"We know the passion there is going to be and the intensity Irish sides bring," Robshaw said at England's Dublin hotel on Saturday.

"We are under no illusions exactly how hard and how intense it is going to be," added the Harlequins skipper, who will be winning just his 14th England cap this weekend.

Robshaw said England had tried to prepare for a frenzied Irish start.

"As a squad, we have had spikes of intensity. It hasn't been 90 minutes of full-on craziness, it has been short and sharp and at the right times and a productive week."

Robshaw heads into the match with plaudits from British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland ringing in his ears.

Just a few months ago the New Zealander insisted he would only consider specialist openside flanks for this year's three-Test tour of Australia by the combined side, with the clear implication England No.7 Robshaw was not that type of player.

However, a few days later Robshaw led England to a stunning win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham and an admiring Gatland said on Friday the Harlequins skipper had "reinvented" himself.

"Has my game changed much? I'm not sure but as a player you never want to stand still," Robshaw said Saturday. "You want to keep evolving.

"If there is something you can't do, you want to address it. I am in a good place in a good team, with a great set of coaches and players around me."

AFP

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Team P W D L Pts
England 5 5 0 132 10
Wales 5 3 1 1 7
Ireland 5 2 1 2 5
Scotland 5 2 0 3 4
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 0 0 5 0